With the 98th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Texans selected Jordan Akins, a tight end out of the University of Central Florida. Drafting Akins was a smart decision by Texans general manager Brian Gaine, because he has the receiving prowess to replace former Texans tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz.
After four seasons with the Texans, tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz decided to retire after suffering repeated concussions throughout his career. This departure left a major void in the Texans offense, whose tight ends caught a league-worst 53 percent of their passes. To fill this void, the Texans decided to draft former University of Central Florida tight end Jordan Akins.
— Texans PR (@TexansPR) April 28, 2018
Akins was originally committed to play football at the University of Central Florida, but ended up playing in minor league baseball after being drafted by the Texas Rangers in the third round of the 2010 MLB Draft.
But sadly for Akins, he struggled mightily in professional baseball, only hitting .218 and never going higher than High-A ball. This mediocre performance led to Akins retiring in 2013 and returning to the University of Central Florida to play football.
At UCF, Akins was not heavily involved in the offense until his senior season, where his season totals of 515 yards and four touchdowns led to him receiving All-American Athletic Conference honors. This solid performance led to many scouts projecting him as either a late round flier in the NFL Draft or an undrafted free agent.
But Akins was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft, shocking many scouts and fans alike. The reason that Akins shot up draft boards is because of his impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, where he was coached by none other than Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. According to O’Brien, “Jordan’s a guy that came across very well as a person, and then as a player on the field,” O’Brien said. “He has a good work ethic. Good ability in the passing game. We were excited to be able to have a chance to draft him.”
So despite Akins being a late round prospect, the Texans selected him in the third round with the 98th overall pick. With a large 6’3″, 249 pound frame, Akins has been hailed by scouts for his receiving abilities, particularly with his ability to gain separation, use his minor-league baseball skills to track the ball, and then gain extra yardage after the catch. This receiving prowess should lead to him filling the receiving void left by C.J. Fiedorowicz, who garnered 559 yards and four touchdowns in 2016.
Houston selects a playmaking tight end, UCF’s Jordan Akins – he was among the most productive receivers at his position in 2017 pic.twitter.com/QQGjeBaxW7
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 28, 2018
But the main issue concerning Akins is not his receiving abilities, but rather his inefficient blocking. According to scouts, Akins is a flawed blocker who bends his waist, is slow off the line, and can’t handle speed off the edge. This weakness in his game cannot be taken lightly, as the health of Deshaun Watson is of paramount importance, which was displayed last year when the Texans went 1-8 after his ACL injury.
Despite this, Jordan Akins will nonetheless be competing for the starting tight end spot with Stephen Anderson, Ryan Griffin, and sixth-round draft pick Jordan Thomas in 2018. The result of this competition will probably be that Jordan Akins will be the receiving tight end and Jordan Thomas will be the blocking tight end.
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) April 28, 2018
This distinction is important because C.J. Fiedorowicz was an efficient blocker for the Texans, a skill that left an even larger void than his receiving capabilities after he retired in 2017. This is because the Texans had one of the worst offensive lines in football last year, and poor blocking by tight ends only exacerbated a problem that resulted in a league-high 252 quarterback pressures.
But standing at a monstrous 6’6″ and 265 pounds, former Mississippi State tight end Jordan Thomas has the type of measurables that translate to efficient blocking at the professional level. If he can use his massive size, Thomas could end filling that blocking hole left by Fiedorowicz, and hopefully keep quarterback Deshaun Watson healthy for the foreseeable future.
Although he probably won’t do much in terms of blocking, Jordan Akins has come a long way to get drafted by the Texans, and looks to be an important receiving weapon for Deshaun Watson in 2018.