Thursday Night Football

HOUSTON TEXANS (2-0) vs NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-0)

Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien likely isn’t going to sob over the predicaments of former boss in New England Bill Belichick ahead of their matchup for Thursday Night Football game (Enter Contests) at Foxborough. The Patriots are expected to start third-round rookie Jacoby Brissett in spite of Tom Brady’s suspension and Jimmy Garoppolo’s shoulder injury. Brissett completed 6-of-9 passes for 92 yards in Sunday’s 31-24 victory over Miami, after Garoppolo went down.

Team’s Breakdown

All-star tight-end Rob Gronkowski has yet to make his season debut. He’s still bothered by a hamstring injury, but could be making his return to the lineup Thursday. Acquired from Chicago in March, Martellus Bennett has done a good job in place of Gronkowski. The nine-year veteran has played on all but two offensive snaps during the season’s initial two games. He reeled in a 20-yard touchdown on Sunday against Miami. Bruising running back LeGarrette Blount collected 193 yards and two touchdowns this season. He’ll look to stay healthy, especially against the team that landed him on the injured reserve last season.

 

After enduring the round and round of their own quarterback carousel last year, the Texans have welcomed the stability afforded by their expensive offseason acquisition Brock Osweiler. Signed to a four-year, $72 million contract, Osweiler was able build good chemistry with Pro Bowl selection DeAndre Hopkins and first-round rookie Will Fuller. While Hopkins leads the team with 12 receptions and two touchdowns, Fuller became the third wideout to start his NFL career with two straight 100-yard receiving games.

Running back Lamar Miller provides O’Brien with a constant presence in the backfield, as the offseason acquisition’s 53 carries are second only to Pittsburgh’s DeAngelo Williams (58) for most in the league. Defense has been the name of the game for Houston, which surrendered just 26 points (NFL third-best), 274.5 yards allowed (third-best) and 178.5 passing yards (fourth-best). Three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt earned 1.5 sacks in a 19-12 triumph over Kansas City last Sunday, while linebacker Whitney Mercilus has had two of them this season and 17 in his last 14 games overall.

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NFL Draft

Top 10 WRs

With the NFL Draft now less than a month away, I present to you my first edition of my top 10 positional rankings.

You will notice I have 12 players listed here, but that’s just in honor of the depth this draft class possesses at the receiver position. While there are no Calvin Johnson’s or Julio Jones’ in this group, there are more than a handful of legitimate prospects with the potential to become impact players at the next level.

Laquon Treadwell is the consensus number one, and though many will point to his stop watch time (4.65) with doubt, it’s his fluidity and game tape that put him in pole position.

topwrsdraft

Baylor’s Corey Coleman has been under heavy scrutiny for his apparent lack of overall skills. He ran a limited route-tree in college, so word of bad route-running and only possessing straight-line speed has surfaced. He also has drop issues, especially in the middle of the field. He ran a 4.37 at his Pro Day and scored 20 TDs through the first eight games of the 2015 season, so going deep is no issue. The issue is that he didn’t score any in the next four games and never came close to 100 yards again. If college teams can figure out how to shut him down, NFL defenses will without breaking a sweat. But if he lands with the right team, those same defenses will be sweating just watching the film on him.

Will Fuller also has the speed (4.32) but as one scout and former NFL receiver said “I hear the DeSean Jackson comparison and I can’t get there. DeSean was faster, tougher and more reliable than Fuller. I’m not saying Fuller can’t play, but I don’t think he’s DeSean.”

Josh Doctson is of a different mold. More of a possession type receiver with the ability to go up and snag the ball out of the air. The Minnesota Vikings seem really interested in what TCU product has to offer, as would he be a great compliment to their young receiving core. An immediate starting job on the outside seems to be in Doctson’s future.

Sterling Shepard rounds out my top five (for this edition anyway). The Sooner may leave something to be desired in terms of measurements, but definitely leaves nothing on the field in terms of effort. The 5’10 slot man not only comes with a ferocious hunger to make plays, but the talent to execute them. I see shades of Steve Smith all over this one.

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