Texans address need in secondary despite not having a first-round pick in this year's NFL draft

Updated Apr. 27, 2024 9:08 p.m. ET

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans addressed some needs in the NFL draft despite not having a first-round pick this year.

A year after selecting quarterback C.J. Stroud second overall and trading up to get defensive end Will Anderson Jr. with the following pick, the Texans didn’t have a pick in this draft until No. 42 in the second round.

After beefing up their offense significantly by trading for star receiver Stefon Diggs and running back Joe Mixon this offseason, the Texans used their early draft picks to improve their secondary.

They did that by taking Georgia cornerback Kamari Lassiter with the 42nd pick and adding USC safety Calen Bullock in the third round at No. 78. Both could move into the starting lineup immediately with Houston looking to upgrade the cornerback spot opposite Derek Stingley Jr., the third overall pick in 2022, and the free safety position to play with strong safety Jalen Pitre, a second-round pick in 2022.


The additions should bolster a defense which ranked 23rd in the NFL last season by allowing 234.1 yards passing a game.

General manager Nick Caserio raved about Lassiter, who won two national championships with the Bulldogs.

“Lassiter has position flexed — he’s played in the perimeter, played inside the formation,” Caserio said. “I’d say he plays with a linebacker-type mentality. He’s a corner, but he tackles. He’s tough, he’s physical.”

Lassiter started 29 games combined in his last two seasons at Georgia where he broke up eight passes and had 3½ tackles for losses last season. His draft stock might have fallen because of concerns about his speed after he ran an unofficial 4.60 40-yard dash at Georgia’s pro day.

“I’m sure there will be a question about his speed, and how fast he ran,” Caserio said. “But he’s not slow. The speed really wasn’t a concern of ours. The time is the time. We’re drafting football players; we’re not drafting track teams… when you watch him play in the SEC, you don’t walk away and have that concern.”

Coach DeMeco Ryans constantly preaches the importance of a relentless mindset to his team — and particularly his defense. He said Lassiter is the perfect example of that.

“Kamari provides toughness,” Ryans said Saturday. “You talk about energy and the way he plays the game — he loves football … he’s everything that our team is about.”

Bullock was a three-year starter for the Trojans where he had nine interceptions — two that were returned for touchdowns — and 151 tackles.

“He’s rangy,” Caserio said. “He covers ground, he plays the ball well. He has good movement skills for a safety. He started his career as a corner. Not saying he’s a corner, but he moves well for his size.”


The Texans chose Notre Dame offensive tackle Blake Fisher with their other pick in the second round at No. 59. Fisher is a versatile lineman after playing both left and right tackle in his college career.

“I think we’ve always been a big believer (that) you can’t have enough tackles on your football team,” Caserio said.


Houston reunited Stroud with his former college teammate when it drafted Ohio State tight end Cade Stover in the fourth round. The 6-foot-4, 251-pound Stover, who spent his first year as a linebacker, had 982 yards receiving with 10 touchdowns combined in his last two seasons with the Buckeyes.

Stroud posted a picture on social media of the two of them celebrating in the end zone while at Ohio State soon after he was drafted Saturday.

“This guy is everything you want in a football player,” Caserio said. “This is probably one of our favorite football players in the entire draft.”


The Texans added to their defense in the sixth round with Oregon safety turned linebacker Jamal Hill. He had 147 tackles, two interceptions and four forced fumbles in five seasons with the Ducks.

Later in the sixth round, the Texans nabbed another player who spent five seasons in college in running back Jawhar Jordan. He spent two seasons at Syracuse before spending his last three seasons at Louisville where he ran for a career-best 1,128 yards and 13 touchdowns last year.

Houston wrapped up the draft by taking USC defensive end Solomon Byrd and Auburn defensive tackle Marcus Harris and Michigan offensive tackle LaDarius Henderson in the seventh round.

Byrd was in college for a whopping six seasons after spending four seasons at Wyoming and two seasons with the Trojans. Harris played at Kansas for two seasons before spending the last three years at Auburn. Henderson spent four seasons at Arizona State before finishing with one season at Michigan.


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