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Houston Texans Draft NCAA's Most Productive WR Over The Last Two Years

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

The most productive player in the FBS over the past two years is now a Houston Texan.


Get To Know Tank


Nathaniel “Tank” Dell was drafted with the 69th overall pick by the Houston Texans. In the last decade, the only Wide Receivers Texans drafted higher are DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller V, and John Metchie III.


Dell joins a Texans Wide Receiver room that is crowded but does not have a clear number one option. The other Wide Receivers Tank will be competing with are Robert Woods, Nico Collins, John Metchie III, Noah Brown, and fellow rookie Xavier Hutchinson.


With a lot of speculation surrounding this group and how they will be used, there is room for opportunity both for Tank and fantasy managers who draft him. He is being drafted in the mid-third round of SuperFlex Rookie drafts with an ADP of 33.91.


All that are familiar with Dell already know his biggest red flag. Dell is small. Like really small. He comes in at five foot eight inches and weighs 165 pounds which comes in at the 1st and 3rd percentile of Wide Receivers respectively. That is enough for some people to take him off their draft boards entirely. So why am I bringing him up as a potential sleeper in rookie drafts?


The Upside


Tank Dell had INSANE college production. In his last two years with the University of Houston, he had 199 receptions for 2,727 yards, and 29 touchdowns. He led all receivers that were drafted this year in these categories. Dell can create separation and his exceptional agility allows him to make the most of his opportunities after that catch.



An example of his quickness was shown in his ten-yard split. The ten-yard split measures how quickly you run the first ten yards of your 40-yard dash. This is a good indicator of your quickness, where the 40-yard dash measures your speed. Dell ran his ten-yard split in 1.49 seconds. That puts Dell in the 93rd percentile of Wide Receivers. As Matt Harmon mentioned in his analysis, Tank’s elite quickness is what allows him to beat press coverage.


In 2021, NFL Wide Receivers faced press coverage on 34% of the routes they ran. Tank may not see much press coverage despite his success against it. He will most likely run the majority of his routes from the slot as he did in college. He ran 67% of his routes from the slot in 2022, but know that he can beat press coverage if he faces it.


The Downside


Dell’s success against man and zone coverage was below average. He posted a success rate of 68.7% (45th percentile) against man coverage, and 78.7% (47th percentile) against zone coverage of the routes Matt Harmon charted. Tank put up these numbers as an older prospect as well. He is coming into the NFL at 23 years old and will turn 24 in late October. By the time Dell is looking for his second contract, he’ll be nearly 28 years old.


Dell’s struggles against man and zone coverage shows that despite his elite production and quickness, he still has some areas of his game to improve. If Dell want’s to distinguish himself from the other Wide Receivers on this depth chart, he is going to have to work on running sharper routes more consistently across the route tree.



Dell will have to see a higher success rate in the NFL against zone coverage before he can be considered a starting option for fantasy football teams.


The Competition


The good news is his competition performed worse against man and zone coverage. John Metchie III posted a 61.2% (18th percentile) success rate against man coverage in college in 2021, while Xavier Hutchinson posted a 61.4% (18th percentile) against man coverage in college in 2022.


Robert Woods and Nico Collins had a 60.2% (20th percentile) and a 68% (47th percentile) success rate against man coverage in the NFL in 2021, respectively.

None of these players were above the 37th percentile against zone coverage, and Nico Collins was the only player that was above the 29th percentile of players against press coverage on the Texans.


There is a chance that Dell will be limited in his first year while he gets acclimated to the NFL and the Texans offense, but Houston made a change at Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator this off-season so all of these Wide Receivers will have to learn a new playbook.

Ordinarily this would be the part where I dive into the scheme and team statistics, but with a first time Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator, it would be pure speculation.


What I can say is that this coaching staff and front office chose Nathaniel Dell to be a part of this team, and chose him earlier than some might have thought he would get drafted. That helps Tank’s chances to see the field early and often.

Summary


There is a reason why the Texans went out and got Nathaniel Dell early in the third round. He has shown elite production and despite his size, has never missed a game in his collegiate career. With a wide open depth chart and a young Quarterback in CJ Stroud who asked his team to draft Dell, Tank could quickly make an impact for an organization that is finally starting to improve. Below are some of his college highlights. Enjoy!


Some Nathaniel Dell highlights: Separation, deception, and ball tracking, and a nice catch over his head. pic.twitter.com/B6YzEgPiGM — John (@JohnALimberakis) February 1, 2023

A comp I made of University of Houston WR and NFL Draft prospect Nathaniel Tank Dell’s 2022 highlights 🏈 Below this video I will post his 2020 and 2021 highlights. Likes & RT’s greatly appreciated! pic.twitter.com/stOIUrmcVx — N 🌧 🦇 (@NGLP124) April 25, 2023

Here is part 2of 2 of Tank Dell’s 2020 and 2021 season highlight’s 🏈 Part 2 shows Tank Dell vs NFL players and DB’s Sauce Gardner, Coby Bryant and Bryan Cook! pic.twitter.com/c7H8Zczfhu — N 🌧 🦇 (@NGLP124) April 25, 2023
 

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