LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech added to its rich history of sending wide receivers to the professional level Saturday as Keke Coutee and Dylan Cantrell were both selected on the final day of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Coutee did not wait long to hear his name called early in the fourth round as he was chosen with just the fourth pick of the day by the Houston Texans. Cantrell, meanwhile, went later in the afternoon as a sixth-round selection by the Los Angeles Chargers.
For as successful as Tech has been in sending wideouts to the next level, this was the first time since 1994 where two receivers were drafted in the same year. Lloyd Hill and Derrell Mitchell were both selected in the sixth round that year by the likes of the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots.
Both Coutee and Cantrell are heading into positive situations from a coaching standpoint with former Red Raider greats on the staffs of both the Texans and Chargers. Wes Welker, who redefined the role of an inside receiver during his 12 seasons in the NFL, is currently an offensive and special teams assistant with the Texans, while the Chargers are led by second-year head coach Anthony Lynn, one of the top running backs in program history.
Welker and several scouts traveled to Lubbock a few weeks ago to further evaluate Coutee, who is the first Red Raider to be selected by Houston since B.J. Symons was taken in the seventh round of the 2004 draft. The Texans used the 103rd overall pick to draft Coutee.
Coutee will get to play near several friends and family with the Texans as his hometown of Lufkin is roughly a two-hour drive from Houston. He joins Symons as well as Ron Reeves (1982) and Donny Anderson as the only Red Raiders to be drafted by a franchise based in Houston.
Coutee put together one of the best seasons ever by a Tech wide receiver in 2017 as he caught a team-leading 93 passes for 1,429 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 1,429 yards through the air ranked second all-time in Tech single-season history, trailing only the 2007 total of two-time Biletnikoff Award winner and current Baltimore Raven, Michael Crabtree.
Cantrell, meanwhile, was the 191st selection of the draft as he is the first Red Raider to be drafted by the Chargers since Louis Vasquez was taken in the third round in 2009. Billy Joe Tolliver was also drafted by the franchise in 1989 as was Maury Buford in 1982, Jeff White in 1965, Roger Gill in 1963 and Ken Talkington in 1960.
Cantrell proved to be one of the most dynamic wide receivers in this year's draft after impressing scouts at the NFL Combine. Cantrell led his position group in the SPARQ metric, which combines results from every drill into one composite score. Cantrell posted the lowest times in the three-cone drill as well as the short shuttle and finished second and third among receivers in the broad jump and vertical jump.
During his senior year alone, Cantrell hauled in career highs with 71 catches for 816 yards and seven touchdowns, which only trailed Coutee among Tech receivers. A native of Whitehouse, Texas, Cantrell wrapped his Tech tenure with 158 catches for 1,873 yards and 18 touchdowns. He combined for 1,491 yards and 15 touchdowns through the air his final two seasons alone.
Tech has become one of the top producers of pro wide receivers this past decade as Jace Amaro (Chiefs), Danny Amendola (Dolphins), Michael Crabtree (Ravens), Jakeem Grant (Dolphins) and Bradley Marquez (Lions) are all currently signed to NFL rosters.
Several other Red Raiders could potentially join Coutee and Cantrell in NFL training camps through free agent contracts. Zach Barnes has already picked his destination as he recently signed a professional contract with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League (CFL).