7 WRs Texans could target in the 2024 NFL draft after Diggs trade

Houston traded for wide receiver Stefon Diggs less than a month before the draft, but that doesn’t preclude them from taking a wide receiver with one of their first two picks in the second round. The Texans previously traded away their first-round pick to the Vikings and are scheduled to make their first selection at pick No. 42 followed by their second selection also in the second round at pick No. 59. 

The Texans and Diggs agreed to void the final three years of his contract, which will make him a free agent at the end of the 2024 season. Diggs now joins Nico Collins, Noah Brown, Robert Woods and Steven Sims as receivers playing in the last year of their contracts with Houston. Currently, the top three receivers for Houston under contract past this upcoming season are Tank Dell, John Metchie III and Xavier Hutchinson. 

Nico Collins could receive an extension before the start of the 2024 season. Houston signing Collins long-term now, as opposed to after the season, would save the team millions. However, by waiting until after the season, it would provide insurance from an injury to Collins along with eliminating the risk of 2023 being a “one-year-wonder” for the breakout star. Having Diggs in the fold also allows Houston to sign him long-term as opposed to Collins if the latter regressed.

It’s highly unlikely the Texans are going to keep Diggs and Collins past the 2024 season. So whether they re-sign Collins or Diggs (or neither), Houston needs a talented player on a cheap contract for the future for when C.J. Stroud, Will Anderson Jr. and Derek Stingley Jr.’s contracts come due in two to three years. In this deep receiver class, it would be wise to be proactive and go after that guy this year and allow him this season to develop and learn from Diggs while providing talented depth at multiple receiver spots.

Here are a few receivers that could be the target for the Texans with either the No. 42 or No. 59 pick in the second round.

Full draft target breakdowns: RB | TE | OT | DB | DT | LB | EDGE

Keon Coleman, FSU, WR

Measurable: 6-foot-3 | 213 pounds | 32-inch arms | 6-foot-6 wingspan | 9-inch hands

Combine numbers: 4.61 40-yard dash | 1.54 10-yard split | 38-inch vertical | 10-foot-7 broad jump

Coleman shouldn’t make it to the second round based on skills alone, but he could be available in the middle of the second round because of his 40 time. If that happens, Houston could jump at the chance to add him to the receiver group.

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He’s a professional receiver in his understanding of the subtle nuances and how to execute at the position. Coleman’s a natural on contested catches. As a blocker, he has a punch that shakes defenders. 

Teams may see him as just a possession receiver with limited speed, allowing him to slip further than talent dictates. Coleman is NFL-ready but during the 2024 season, he could provide depth at all three receiver spots, while rotating in for different looks with the trio ahead of him.

Ladd McConkey, Georgia, WR

Measurables: 6-foot-0 |186 pounds | 30-inch arms | 6-foot-0 wingspan | 8.5-inch hands

Combine numbers: 4.39 40-yard dash | 1.52 10-yard split  36-inch vertical | 10-foot-4 broad | 13 reps of 225

When head DeMeco Ryans spoke about finding another receiver, he mentioned words like “separator.” McConkey is one of the few names that comes to mind in this class that represents that.

McConkey is deadly versus zone coverage. He has the speed to split zone on his “go” route down the seam. He’s the ideal slot weapon for the team to complement Diggs, Collins and Dell, while giving Stroud a steady target who can uncover quickly.

The reason he may not go in the first round and fall to Houston is mostly due to length. He has short arms, a short wingspan and has smaller than desirable hands at the position. He can get stuck on press or get stymied by longer defensive backs.

Xavier Legette, South Carolina, WR

Measurables: 6-foot-1 | 221 pounds | 32-inch arms | 6-foot-6 wingspan | 9-inch hands

Combine numbers: 4.39 40-yard dash | 1.54 10-yard split | 40-inch vertical | 10-foot-6 broad jump

Legette routinely elevates, highpoints and displays a great catch radius. He appears to float in the air, similar to how Clyde Drexler soared through the lane on the basketball court. Legette is a back-shoulder weapon that can be relied on whether he creates space or not on any given play.

His start-and-stop ability with a fluid breakdown makes it impossible for any defensive back to stay with him in coverage. Legette was also used on jet sweeps and routes out of the running back formation during his time in college.

He doesn’t show the elusiveness after the catch you’d expect for his size and speed combination. Legette tends to take hits to his lower legs almost weekly which leave him in pain but doesn’t seem to miss time. 

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Malachi Corley, Western Kentucky, WR

Measurables: 5-foot-11 | 215 pounds | 32-inch arms | 6-foot-4 wingspan | 9-inch hands

Corley appears to be this year’s Deebo Samuel. He turns into a running back after the catch with his ability to play behind blocks and run physically.

Corley has taken running back carries and shown contact balance with the ability to make the cuts and fight for yardage. As a receiver, he’s physical at the top of routes and tough to bring down. Teams will just look to get the ball in his hands by any means at the NFL level.

When watching him against Ohio State he struggled to create separation. If he doesn’t excel in one specific trait in the NFL, he could be left with the “tweener” label and lose the “Deebo-like” label, as he’d be a man without a position.

Ricky Pearsall, Florida, WR

Measurables: 6-foot-1 | 189 pounds | 31-inch arms | 6-foot-1 wingspan | 9-inch hands

Combine numbers: 4.41 40-yard dash | 1.57 10-yard split | 42-inch vertical | 10-foot-9 broad | 6.64 3-cone | 4.05 short shuttle

Pearsall is extremely talented versus zone coverage to find the weakness. He has a quick stop route in which he shows his numbers quickly. Pearsall tracks the ball well and makes the tough adjustments.

He doesn’t leave his quarterback hanging and will break back to ball which limits pass breakups and allows for more spacing to get yards after catch. Pearsall has a beautiful hesitation step and can sucker defensive backs in with his “slow-and-go” technique in which he accelerates after baiting defenders in.

Pearsall is a willing but unimpressive blocker who will need to improve if he’s to fit in a zone-blocking scheme. The 4.41-speed doesn’t always show up in the area of creating separation and he can struggle on the contested “hands” catch.

Troy Franklin, Oregon, WR

Measurables: 6-foot-2 | 176 pounds | 32-inch arms | 6-foot-6 wingspan | 9-inch hands

Combine numbers: 4.41 40-yard dash | 1.61 10-yard split | 39-inch vertical | 10-foot-4 broad | 6.90 3-cone | 4.31 short shuttle

Franklin has been mentioned as a fringe first-round talent throughout the draft process, but he’s trickled further down boards as the process has gone on.

He displays great shake-off the line of scrimmage with quick feet and a smooth breakdown. His routes are sharp and hard for defensive backs to stick with in coverage. Franklin shows an ability to use his length to latch onto blocks occasionally.

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His frame is reminiscent of former Seahawks and Commanders wideout Paul Richardson. He doesn’t trust his hands as he’s a body-catcher. Franklin is a willing blocker but not much substance as he’s routinely knocked around on blocks and in routes.

Jacob Cowing, Arizona, WR

Measurables: 5-foot-8 | 168 pounds | 29-inch arms | 5-foot-9 wingspan | 9-inch hands

Combine numbers: 4.38 40-yard dash | 1.54 10-yard split | 36-inch vertical | 9-foot-11 broad | 7.02 3-cone | 4.32 short shuttle

Cowing’s stock is the opposite of Franklin’s in that he was originally considered a Day 3 pick but his value has seen an uptick recently. He’s instant offense and matches the “separator” label.

He has a rare blend of speed, quickness and explosion. Cowing displays an insanely quick shake off the snap and he’s close to being unguardable as a receiver prospect. 

He gets stuck on press jam due to his size and his frame is a concern for injury risk. He has a similar body type to Jalen Saunders. 

Who should the Texans pick?

Ideally, Coleman or McConkey will fall into the Texans lap with the No. 42 pick. If the situation doesn’t play out that way, they could go with Legette at No. 42 or wait until No. 59 pick and look for Corley or Pearsall. If they value Franklin as much as the national media, he too could be in play.

Cowing’s talent is worthy of being the pick at No. 59, but the Texans could wait for him in the third round. If they punt on receiver in the second round, he’s a good fallback option later on Day 2 with their No. 86 pick because he likely won’t last until their fourth-round pick at No. 123. If they wait and get beat for Cowing, there are some Day 3 fallback options for Houston to consider at the position.

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