“Davis Mills is far more talented than Jimmy Garoppolo… I came away extremely impressed with Mills and Garoppolo would not be an upgrade, he’d be the backup.”
— John Crumpler (@JohnHCrumpler) July 28, 2022
There is a renewed sense of optimism surrounding the Houston Texans’ offense. Second year quarterback Davis Mills has drawn praise from all levels of the organization and is coming off a five-game stretch to end the 2021 campaign where he looked like a legitimate NFL quarterback. NFL analyst Greg Cosell went as far to say that Mills looked “far more talented” than former San Francisco 49ers starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Meanwhile, the comments around new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton are equally glowing. Those in the locker room praise his communication skills, the simplicity of the scheme, and just how strong of a coach he appears to be. He’s established a fast connection with his quarterback and the rest of the locker room following his promotion this off-season from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Hamilton is on the radar for many as a potential coaching candidate during the 2023 offseason cycle.
Davis Mills describes OC Pep Hamilton as the kind of coach who ‘will get out there and sling it in practice’
“He’s a warm guy when he needs to be and he’ll get on you when he needs to as well” pic.twitter.com/4goL5T93Cu
— John Crumpler (@JohnHCrumpler) July 2, 2022
There is one glaring cause for pause amongst the immense encouragement those two bring together to Houston’s offense.
Outside of Brandin Cooks, now playing on a new three-year extension, the Texans lack any guaranteed NFL playmaker on their offense.
Second-year wideout Nico Collins and second-year tight end Brevin Jordan are hoped to take huge steps forward this year but neither is a guarantee. Wideouts Phillip Dorsett and Chris Conley fall firmly in the “retread” category more so than the “future” category and the running back room is headlined by fourth round rookie Dameon Pierce and Marlon Mack, who is still trying to revitalize his career following a Week 1 Achilles tear in the 2020 season.
To alleviate this burden, general manager Nick Caserio had parted with significant draft capital to acquire Alabama wide receiver John Metchie. Unfortunately, Metchie’s plans for the 2022 season came to a screeching halt last week with his diagnosis of Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia. Suddenly, Houston’s plan to have a dynamic slot receiver to help alleviate the burden from Cooks has been torn to shreds.
This issue came to a headway at Houston training camp last week as Mills was forced to checkdown time and again as his receivers struggled to get open.
It raises an important question: should Houston explore the veteran market to fill that new void? One name in particular in free agency stands out as one of the NFL’s best slot receivers from the past 3 seasons.
Former Buffalo Bill and Dallas Cowboy, Cole Beasley.
Beasley is fresh off three seasons in Buffalo where he had over 690 yards in each campaign and at least 67 receptions. He was targeted by Josh Allen over 100 times in 2019, 2020, and 2021 while helping the Bills’ young signal caller evolve from a project quarterback into one of the NFL’s truly elite players.
Alongside the sheer volume, the numbers point to a receiver that truly served as a security blanket for Allen. Beasley was responsible for a first down on 53 of his 82 catches in 2020. That number went down to 34 first downs on 82 receptions in 2021 as Allen grew more comfortable but that points to a specific idea.
Beasley is a crafty slot receiver who excels in finding space and creating comfortable passing lanes and checkdowns for his quarterbacks. He had only 13 dropped passes over his three seasons on 325 targets. Beasley is the type of veteran receiver who not only represents someone that a young quarterback can trust but also betters the offense by virtue of his own ability to get open.
Why couldn’t Beasley play this role again for Mills?
Cole Beasley is coming off 3 consecutive seasons with 65+ catches and 750+ receiving yards that corresponded with Josh Allen’s rise from project QB to the league’s best.
Could be a great veteran presence for a young QB in Davis Mills now that Metchie will miss 2022 #WeAreTexans
— John Crumpler (@JohnHCrumpler) July 25, 2022
Signing Beasley this early into training camp would still allow plenty of time for the veteran receiver to establish rapport with his young quarterback and to learn Hamilton’s new offense alongside everyone else. He would also be able to mentor and teach some of the younger potential slot receivers on the roster like Chris Moore and Damion Davis.
Beasley does come with off-field controversy. The former SMU Mustang was outspoken on his refusal to take the COVID vaccine. For the time being, it appears this particular distraction is not going to be present in the NFL for 2022.
Houston may believe that his personality is too disruptive or that he could upset the chemistry that they’ve worked so hard to build over the past six months. If they’re willing to take the swing though, it could pay huge dividends.
Beasley could provide a reliable weapon for Mills while hopefully drawing attention away from Collins and Cooks.
The options this late in the offseason are always limited. For a team that needs a slot receiver suddenly, Beasley may be as good as they ever come in August.