In the first round, the Houston Texans solved their wide receiver need by drafting DeAndre Hopkins, a perfect complement to Andre Johnson. In the sixth round, the Texans grabbed a second wide receiver.
This one, however, came pretty much out of nowhere.
Alan Bonner is a receiver who does many of the things Hopkins does, but the depth at WR makes it difficult to see where exactly he fits on the team.
Is Bonner a player who can even make the roster moving forward?
Role and roster fit
The Texans have some depth at wide receiver, and that depth is not all that bad when you're looking at them as backups. DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin are both entering their second year, and both have shown promise, though the jury is out on Posey until he recovers from his injury.
Lestar Jean has also looked solid as a third-year undrafted free agent. Throw Bonner into the mix and suddenly you have a logjam.
In short, Bonner is going to be competing with Posey, Martin and Jean for roster spots in training camp, and suddenly the wide receiver position is one to watch in camp.
Martin is currently the team's kick returner, so if Martin wants to make it onto the team, that's the guy he's going to have to beat by showcasing his return abilities.
If Bonner can demonstrate both receiving and return abilities, it will help him big time in the depth chart battle—but it will still be a battle.
Bonner is someone who will have to make a name for himself in training camp sooner rather than later. Johnson and Hopkins have the starting WR spots locked up, and the Texans may not be keeping six wide receivers.
Jeff Maehl has been on the practice squad, so of the WR options, he would be the one most likely cut. That leaves Bonner fighting against three other wide receivers, with one of them likely being demoted to the practice squad.
The Texans are bringing in Bonner with the intention of using him as a possible kick returner. As a result, his prime competition is Keshawn Martin, who still will likely make the team as a primary backup even if he loses the return job.
Bonner is the type of receiver whose faster with the ball in his hands than he is on a track; he will get opportunities to showcase that functional speed in training camp and the preseason. He just has to take advantage of these chances.
I can see him being one of the last ones to make the roster and getting occasional return duties behind Martin. He may get a handful of receptions too. But i t will not be overly surprising if he ends up as a practice-squad player to start the season.
If Bonner can continue to work with the skill set he has, he could be a decent possession receiver at the next level; I actually have a better feeling about his pass-catching potential than his return skills, and as a result that is what he will have to focus on in training camp.