15 Most Impactful Texans of 2023 No. 5 Nico Collins

The Houston Texans had an extremely successful 2023 campaign.

They cruised to a 10-7 record under new head coach DeMeco Ryans and captured several accolades along the way. They won the AFC South and won a playoff game for the first time since the 2019 season. Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud won PFWA’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, rookie edge rusher Will Anderson won PFWA’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, and even Ryans took home hardware with PFWA’s Coach of the Year.

With a revamped team effort that led to dramatic improvements compared to both the 2021 and 2022 Texans, it’s worth examining who created that impact this past season and what their future projects moving forward.

This series has taken a look at defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, running back Devin Singletary, rookie receiver Tank Dell, and veteran tackle George Fant, and upstart linebacker Blake Cashman.

Entering the top 10, we took a closer look at cornerback Steven Nelson and linebacker Christian Harris, and offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, franchise left tackle Laremy Tunsil, and budding shutdown cornerback Derek Stingley

Entering the top five, the Texans offense takes center stage with none other than standout third-year wideout Nico Collins.


Tim Warner/Getty Images
Tim Warner/Getty Images

Nico Collins entered 2023 with his status in limbo.

Just two years after general manager Nick Caserio traded a hefty package to move up and select Collins 89th overall, the receiver had yet to produce to his draft capital. The University of Michigan product had just 70 total catches and had never accumulated more than 481 yards in a season while playing with fellow 2021 draftee Davis Mills.

To make matters worse, Collins had struggled to stay on the field. He played in just 10 games during the 2022 campaign, despite ample hope his ability might shine under offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and playing across from Brandin Cooks.

Hence, things were beyond uncertain when Collins entered 2023.

Cooks had been traded to the Dallas Cowboys, leaving a huge vacuum for Houston’s top receiver spot. However, there were concerns over how Collins would fit in Bobby Slowik’s offense. The team had also brought in veteran Robert Woods and drafted University of Houston wideout Tank Dell in the third round of the 2023 draft.

Regardless, hopes were high that, if Collins was ever going to take a leap, playing with rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud could jump start his career.

2023 Performance

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Collins, to the chagrin of many, told reporters that Slowik had instructed him to watch the Atlanta Falcons’ Julio Jones from his tenure with Kyle Shanahan in 2016.

It turned out to be an apt comparison.

The wideout turned into a star with Stroud and Slowik, as Collins caught 80 receptions off 109 targets for 1,297 yards and eight touchdowns. He set career highs for every category, and it was one of the Texans most dominant receiving seasons in franchise history.

Collins flashed the ability to serve as a franchise caliber “X” wideout and a potential to serve as Stroud’s No. 1 target moving forward. The athleticism that had been so promising when he left college showed in a dominant fashion as Collins became nearly unstoppable on slants, in-breakers, and post routes once momentum was on his side and it became a timing game with Stroud.

The season flashed plenty of huge moments. Whether it was going for 195 total yards, including a long touchdown, in Week 18 to defeat Indianapolis and move to the playoffs or a breakout two-touchdown performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4. There were four performances where Collins went over 140 yards on the contest.

It couldn’t have gone better for No. 12.

2024 Projection

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Collins will enter 2024 with massive expectations.

It remains to be seen if the team will ultimately add another receiver, but regardless, he will be expected to turn out yet another dominant season alongside breakout rookie starter Tank Dell.

Collins will aim for another 1,000-yard campaign and attempt to earn a pay day that inevitably awaits him as one of the league’s premier receiving talents. It’s possible that Houston and Caserio attempt to reach a extension this offseason as to avoid an extraordinary pay day in 2025.

Whether or not Collins bets on his talents financially, the team will lean on him to produce in a year where Super Bowl expectations will abound. Houston fans and Fantasy Football fans alike have seen what he is capable of alongside Stroud.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire