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The Texans got a lot faster in the NFL Draft. Here’s how they’ll put that speed to work.

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The Texans have more speed than a Waco truck stop. Here’s how they can turn that into a dangerous offense.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans selected receiver Will Fuller with their first-round pick, grabbed explosive offensive weapon Braxton Miller in the third, and then picked electric running back/returner Tyler Ervin in the fourth. Every year, there are a few teams whose haul of picks follows a common theme, and for the Texans, this year's NFL Draft was all about speed.

Houston's offense was anemic last season. They ran a ton of plays (most in the NFL!) but didn't have a ton to show for it, finishing second-worst in yards per play total (4.6) and third-worst in the yards per pass attempt in the NFL (6.4), behind only the Colts and Rams.

The Texans produced just 28 pass plays of 25-plus yards with Brian Hoyer, TJ Yates, and Brandon Weeden at the helm, good for 24th in the NFL. Their "big play percentage" (10+ yard runs and 25+ yard passes as a percentage of total plays) was just 6.3 percent, or 29th in the NFL, better than only San Diego, Tennessee, and Washington.

They desperately need some explosiveness in their offense. Fuller helps give them that.

Fuller's speed was on full display at the NFL Combine when he ran a 4.32 in the forty. That was best among receivers -- second among all positions -- and as Brett Kollmann so aptly put it over at Battle Red Blog, "his role as a rookie is rather simple: First and foremost, his objective is to scare the living sh!t out of safeties."

He doesn't need volume in targets to be effective -- DeAndre Hopkins (111 catches in 2015) will continue to receive the majority of looks from Brock Osweiler, their newly-signed quarterback -- Fuller simply needs to serve his role as a deep threat. This speed and undeniable ability to get behind cornerbacks on the outside and up the middle will make safeties think twice before rolling coverage over toward Hopkins.

Nuk knows it.

Fuller averaged over 17 yards per catch in his career, a remarkable stat considering that is spread out among 144 career grabs. He scored 29 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Many of them looked like this:

In the case above, obviously, the Trojan safety made the mistake of keeping his eyes in the backfield. Fuller made them pay over the top.

The same thing happens below. Imagine Nuk Hopkins lining up in the slot against a cover-2 shell. You have to feel bad for that safety, who now has to make a quick decision on whether to carry Hopkins (in this case, No. 10 below) up the seam -- he's more likely to be the top target in almost any situation -- or stick with Fuller on the outside.

Even a split-second hesitation can be the difference in making up the gap in that "cover-2 hole" to the outside, especially when you have a guy whose field speed is as good as Fuller's.

You can see roughly the same decision-making process below. Lining Fuller up with another receiver in the slot, Notre Dame forced defenses to show their hands in coverage. In the following case, the safety over the top chose the route on the inside, which left Fuller in one-on-one coverage on the deep post.

He draws the pass interference.

You see this pretty frequently on Fuller's tape. And, while there are certainly things Houston fans can be concerned about -- his drops, particularly -- it seems pretty clear that he's not just a workout warrior. He's field fast. There's major college production.

That production will dip in terms of volume next year, but his true value may be more than just in the number of balls he catches. It's clear that the Texans are looking to do a few things with their first-round pick: 1) give their franchise quarterback in Brock Osweiler another playmaker, 2) give their offense another guy that teams have to game plan for, 3) stress the defense by having that home-run hitter, and with all this, 4) make their offense more explosive down the field.

* * *

The thing to watch will be whether Osweiler is willing and able to push the ball downfield to his playmakers. He already has Nuk Hopkins as an ace in the hole and true No. 1 threat. Adding Fuller should, as I laid out above, give Hopkins more opportunities in one-on-one situations. Fuller himself should give Osweiler an option in any given situation to just run a nine-route up the sideline and beat his defender downfield.

The only problem is that Osweiler hasn't really proven thus far that he's a dangerous deep-ball thrower.

As Pro Football Focus' Pat Thorman pointed out on Twitter, Osweiler was just 7-for-30 (23.3-percent) on throws 20 yards or more downfield in 2015. On those throws, he connected for 256 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and had a 26.7 accuracy percentage -- which was 34th out of 35 eligible quarterbacks.

To give you more context, on approximately the same amount of pass attempts (282 to 275), Blaine Gabbert completed 27 passes that went for 20 or more yards (not necessarily 20 air yards), and Osweiler had just 17. Yikes.

Obviously Bill O'Brien and his staff are projecting that Osweiler will throw the ball deep more effectively in Houston. Perhaps in Denver's conservative offense, Osweiler was not asked to do much (nor was the man he replaced and was later replaced by, Peyton Manning). Perhaps Osweiler was not utilized to his full potential. But it's clear that with the addition of Will Fuller to their offensive arsenal, O'Brien and company want a vertical game.

Regardless, it's going to be fun to see Fuller up outside and allow Houston to move Hopkins around based on matchups. Will teams respond with more two-high looks to protect against the deep ball? That could open things up for the Houston run game, which added Lamar Miller in free agency. It's not terribly far-fetched to think that Fuller could have an impact on both the run game and the pass game, even as a rookie.

* * *

Fuller's role seems pretty clear from the outset, but the Texans may look to get a little more creative with Braxton Miller and Tyler Ervin, who both ran in the 4.3s and 4.4s at their pro days. Houston head coach Bill O'Brien can tool his offensive attack based on matchups and schemes, and both could be utilized in what he's dubbed the "edge" position, a hybrid of a receiver and a running back.

With Hopkins and Fuller ostensibly forcing defenses to play deeper coverage, Miller and Ervin could be unleashed underneath, and threaten defenses laterally. Essentially, with some of these additions, defenses are going to be pretty spread thin and made to defend the entire field, both vertically and horizontally.

By threatening defenses in the intermediate area of the field, these additions could end up being just as big of a boon for Osweiler as the Fuller addition.

Perhaps the Texans could start by lining up with two Millers (Lamar and Braxton) in the backfield, then doing something like what Ohio State did with so much success.

Like this ...

And everyone remembers this ...

With Braxton Miller, the tools are there. He's raw as a receiver but knows how to make plays with the ball in his hand, so O'Brien and company may need to manufacture touches for him early on. That's fine. It's to be expected as he adjusts to the learning curve NFL receivers face.

As for Ervin, it's much of the same: he doesn't project as an every-down type of running back, but rather as an offensive weapon that can be used creatively in the passing game or on third down as a change of pace.

Here's an example of Ervin lining up in the slot and running a tunnel screen -- something I would imagine Houston will look to incorporate.

Fuller is the real impact player initially, but GM Rick Smith and head coach Bill O'Brien wanted to improve the Texans' overall team speed. They wanted to become more dangerous offensively and more dynamic in what they can do with their personnel groupings. Obviously, the added weaponry helps take some of the weight off Brock Osweiler's shoulders, as well, and the thought would be that they soften up defenses across the board.

"I think one of the things we identified while we were evaluating our team, was how can we become a little faster, a little bit more athletic in certain areas," O'Brien said during the draft.

They achieved that goal. Now they need to plug that speed into their offense and take advantage of it.