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Saturday, February 23, 2013
Is this the year Texans swing big at WR?

By Paul Kuharsky

INDIANAPOLIS -- Last year they took a shot, drafting wide receivers in the third and fourth round.

The Texans still have high hopes for DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin, though Posey’s recovering from a ruptured Achilles suffered in the playoff loss in New England. They still like Lestar Jean, too.

But Houston’s being honest: It needs a dynamic second receiver to play opposite Andre Johnson and eventually, potentially, take over his mantle.

Keenan Allen
Houston needs a receiver able to stretch the field. Is Cal's Keenan Allen a solid fit for the team?
“I think that continues to be right now a big focus for us as an organization,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “We drafted a few young guys last year. I do have a young guy in Lestar Jean that I think a lot of. DeVier Posey was making big, big progress and now we're dealing with a significant injury that is going to take some time

"So I think it’s important that we continue to strengthen our team in that area. Andre is in Year 11 or something like that now, so we’ve got to find some other guys to continue to produce alongside of him.”

The team's current No. 1, Kevin Walter, could wind up a salary-cap casualty. He does dirty work that doesn’t get enough credit, and that’s important. But if your dirty-work guy is also the second receiver on the field most of the time, it helps the offense if he’s a bigger threat against the one-on-one coverage he’s likely to draw.

Cordarrelle Patterson out of Tennessee is likely to be gone by the time the Texans draft 24th in the first round.

Cal’s Keenan Allen and Terrance Williams of Baylor probably rate as possibilities at the spot.

Evaluators say Allen can line up outside or inside and is a smooth route runner and at 6-foot-2 and about 210 pounds, he’s got some size. Allen rates himself as a physical, Anquan Boldin-type of receiver.

He won’t run at the combine because he tweaked an old knee injury in training so questions about his speed are likely to linger until his pro day on March 14.

“I feel like I'm a starter, self-motivated, a humble guy,” Allen said. “My work ethic is there. I'm a film junkie so I'm definitely doing that type of preparation for the game.”

Williams ranks as more of a vertical guy, and stretching the field more is something the Texans need to do to pen space for Arian Foster and Owen Daniels.

“I can stretch the field in a hurry,” Williams said.

He dismissed concerns that he’s only a vertical route runner, saying that when he’s asked to run other routes he’ll prove he can do so reliably.

West Virginia’s Tavon Austin is most different from anyone the Texans already have. He’s a smaller, slot-type of guy and should bring a spark to the team that lands him. But like anyone who’s 5-8 and 174 pounds, durability is a concern.

Austin admires Wes Welker, who’s pretty much the patron saint of up-and-coming slot guys nowadays.

“I think I’m a little quicker and faster than him,” Austin said. “So I figure if he can do it, I can do it, too.”

It’s not a great receiver class overall. Pro Football Weekly rates it as a "C" group.

Houston went for guys in the middle of the draft last year and didn’t find immediate impact. A choice near the top of a middling class could do a lot for a team that could be one big piece away from being a constant matchup problem.