Posted: 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 1, 2013
When the Houston Texans selected Jacksonville State wide receiver Alan Bonner in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, I readily admitted that I knew absolutely nothing about Bonner. Granted, I was writing that in an extreme hurry. Even with time, I don't think I could have cobbled together enough information to present a fair look at Houston's newest Gamecock on that day. Yes, they are the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. Let's see what else we can dig up on Bonner to flesh out his profile here.
For starters, why should you pay attention to a sixth round wide receiver? The Texans' depth chart goes Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, Keshawn Martin, LeStar Jean, and DeVier Posey (currently slated to start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list). Traditionally, Houston prefers to carry five receivers on the roster, so a fifth slot should be open for Bonner, Jeff Maehl, or any of the undrafted free agents. Bonner, like Martin and Maehl, will likely be competing for a slot receiver job and, like Martin, Bonner will toss his hat into the returner ring.
Special teams play will be a huge part of why Bonner could stick. As we all saw with Jacoby Jones, the Texans wouldn't mind their third receiver focusing on offensive development. If they're high on him, I'm sure Houston would like Martin developing in the slot if they had another productive returner. Bonner's got experience on teams, as he played coverage gunner and kick/punt returner in Jacksonville State (and yes, the Cincinnati Bengals were interested in him. A scout even compared Bonner to Percy Harvin at the NFL Combine. Percy Harvin, y'all).
Speaking of the Combine, here's some video of Bonner there.
It is shorts and shirts, but you can see Bonner runs quick on a football field, as opposed to the awkwardness of track running, and he catches with his hands. Bonner didn't do poorly at the NFL Combine at all. In fact, if you look here, you can see his measureables and results are right on par with St. Louis Rams third-round pick Stedman Bailey. That's not to say Bonner is Bailey, who had huge production at West Virginia with his big-time quarterback and spread system, but Bonner matches up physically to the third rounder - something that should be made clear given all the talk of "undersized" I've seen thrown about.
It's not like Bonner didn't produce, either. Over the course of his four years at Jacksonville State, Bonner's production as a receiver increased, as the Texans typically like to see from their rookies. The Gamecock receiver had 14 receptions as a freshman, 17 as a sophomore, 30 as a junior, and topped out at 50 catches for 859 yards and eight touchdowns in his final season. His return numbers dipped as he became a more prominent offensive weapon, but Bonner finished with a career average of 11.2 yards per punt return, two career return touchdowns, the school's career record in punt returns (87) and punt return yards (972), and the school's single-season record on kick return yards (648).
From the sounds of things, he already has a big fan in head coach Gary Kubiak. The fact that Kubiak is praising Bonner's ability to get in and out of breaks should show that Bonner is on the radar and certainly has a chance at grabbing one of the 53 roster spots come August.
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