College Background

After choosing Texas Tech over Oklahoma and Texas as a three-star prospect entering college, Coutee had a minimal impact on the team as a freshman. He finished with only 105 yards and zero touchdowns in the well renowned Red Raider air raid offense. As a sophomore with Kansas City Chiefs young star Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, Coutee reached the end zone eight times, also amassing a whopping 15.4 yards per reception.

The improvement continued in his final college season as a junior; becoming the most reliable receiver on the team. He compiled nearly 1500 receiving yards on almost 100 receptions while scoring ten touchdowns. Coutee was also an impressive return man, averaging 31.5 return yards on his ten returns, one of which went for a score. His 93 receptions in his junior year rank only behind Michael Crabtree in the single season Texas Tech record books.

College Metrics

  • 9 slot rating according to PFF, best among draft eligible wide receivers
  • 19 forced missed tackles according to PFF, T-4th among draft eligible wide receivers
  • 7% catch rate on deep passes according to PFF, T-14th all CFB wide receivers
  • 43 40 yard dash at the NFL combine, T-6th among wide receivers
  • 1265 receiving yards from slot according to PFF, best among draft eligible wide receivers
  • Slants and go routes significantly most effective routes according to film study
  • All 10 touchdowns came from being lined up in the slot according to film study

Debut

If you paid attention to the news coming out of Texans training camp this offseason then Coutee’s debut likely came as no surprise. If you weren’t paying attention, then chances are you had to look up who Coutee was and how he ended up on the Texans. Regardless, the Texans seemed to have found the receiver they’ve been looking for all along.

Coutee came down with 11 receptions, which stands as the second most in a debut in NFL history. The Texans forced the ball into his hands early on, but ultimately it allowed the Texans to open up the field to allow him to make plays throughout the game.

Two of his receptions came on forward pitches by Watson. Neither were too effective, but they got him into the game and forced the defense to make plays outside the hashes. Four of his catches came on screen passes, and while not all of them went for big yardage, they often gained a decent chunk of yardage. This was his third most effective route in college and as he gets more snaps on the offense, he’ll acclimate to wait for some blocks for even bigger gains.  To a certain extent, this can be a nice alternative to running the ball on first down because of the inept offensive line.

Otherwise, Coutee also had two receptions on slant routes, one catch on a curl route where he found a soft spot in the defense, and two out route completions. His most important catch of the day came in overtime on a 3rd and long where he made an acrobatic reception on one of his out routes.

The 11 receptions accumulated to 96 yards after catch, the most by any Texans receiver to this point in the season. Texas Tech didn’t use him very much to run the out, but that could be also due to the fact that in the Big 12, it is unwise to have you fastest player running towards the sideline rather than the open field. Coutee looks like he’ll be a key player for the Texans, finally manning the slot that’s been missing a star for what seems like forever.

Texans Wide Receiver Situation

DeAndre Hopkins has been widely regarded as a top five wide receiver in the NFL for the past several years. Will Fuller, the Texans second receiver, has been on the rise, creeping into a clear cut top 15 receiver in the league as well.

Fuller’s connective with Deshaun Watson is truly impressive, scoring in every game thus far this season, and breaking 100 yards in both games that he closed out. Unfortunately, injuries have been plaguing him. From missing week one, to leaving week four early, Fuller’s biggest downfall is his health.

The third receiver spot has been up for grabs though. Undrafted rookie Vyncint Smith out of Limestone College has been getting some playing time, along with Sammie Coates, who was a solid depth receiver for the Steelers in 2016.

Coutee looks like he’s the best compliment to his star counterparts though. While Hopkins has a very diverse route tree, Fuller and Coutee are very similar players, while contrasting each other just enough. Fuller excels running go routes, regularly burning teams for deep receptions and touchdowns. Aside from that, he has expanded his route tree since Notre Dame, becoming a reliable receiver across the middle of the field on slants and in routes.

Coutee on the other hand excels running crossing routes, and when defenses fall asleep and expect the short yardage, he surprises the defense with a go route, often resulting in successful plays downfield. Coutee is undoubtedly the third most talented receiver on the roster, and his ability to compliment Will Fuller should keep him on the field for weeks to come.

Conclusions

Coutee had an absolutely superb debut, and if he were able to replicate it, that would be wonderful. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely considering if he were able to do that on a weekly basis, he would instantly become the best receiver in the NFL.

The expectations for the young fourth round draft pick need to be tamed somewhat. While he should see the field lots following his breakout game against the Colts, a large part of his success was also due to not having Will Fuller on the field. He should fall back to the third option, and he should absolutely be worked into the offense to spread the field and keep defenders on their toes, although both the reception totals and the yardage seems nearly impossible to maintain.

Out of Texans camp this offseason, it was mentioned that Coutee could go for 50 receptions for 400 yards and some touchdowns. Even after missing the first three games of the season, his debut makes that entirely possible at this point in the season. It’s also important that fans remember that he’s still developing as a rookie and he may struggle at times. Also, unfortunately, the play calling to this point has been incredibly narrow minded, and it doesn’t seem impossible, even though it does seem completely unreasonable, to think of a scenario where he gets phased out of the offense.

He has all the tools and the ability to become a star in this league, and one thing to keep in mind; DeAndre Hopkins only had 800 yards and two touchdowns while working behind Andre Johnson in his rookie season, so stay patient and be hopeful.

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