2023 NFL Draft: Underrated rookies to watch this season

Emmanuel Forbes (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Emmanuel Forbes (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /
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NFL Draft
Aug 13, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; General view of a Houston Texans helmet and electronic tablets on the bench before the game against the New Orleans Saints at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

4. Nathaniel “Tank” Dell, Wide Receiver, Houston Texans

The Houston Texans entered this year’s draft with a few holes on their roster, including their wide receiver room. Even after signing Robert Woods and Dalton Schultz during the offseason, the Texans still needed to fix their group of pass catchers. They decided to work on that during the draft, selecting Houston wide receiver Tank Dell in the third round.

Tank Dell took over college football in 2022, leading the nation in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He also ranked top ten in key stats like PFF grade and PFF receiving grade vs. Man coverage.

There is one issue: Dell is extremely small.

At the NFL combine, he measured in at 5’8 and 166 lbs., which is unbelievably small for a wide receiver. This is a problem because the hit rate for receivers this size is incredibly small. No receiver 5’9 or below who weighs less than `170 lbs. has ever recorded 1,000 yards in a single season.

Tank Dell is good enough to be an outlier and succeed despite having a historically small frame. However, there is hope for him, even if he doesn’t make it as a wide receiver, because he can provide value on special teams.

Ourlads has him slotted in as the Texans’ starting kick returner, and he could be awesome in that role. At Houston, he returned kicks and punts, recording nearly 500 total return yards during his college career.

He was really good as a punt returner in 2022, recording a PFF punt return grade of 93.7. To be fair, he only had 28 total returns in college, so the sample size is small. However, he is extremely quick, he is decent at breaking tackles, and there’s some evidence that he could be productive as a returner in the NFL.