National Football League
2024 NFL Draft: Don’t expect Texans GM Nick Caserio to stand pat
National Football League

2024 NFL Draft: Don’t expect Texans GM Nick Caserio to stand pat

Published Apr. 24, 2024 5:01 p.m. ET

The way Texans general manager Nick Caserio views roster building, the best-case scenario for a franchise at this point in the spring is having a team that can be competitive without the draft. 

Ahead of the start of the 2024 NFL Draft on Thursday, Caserio believes Houston is living in that reality. Many league observers would agree, considering the team has already been crowned as a top AFC contender following its free agency moves. 

"Whoever we draft, hopefully they'll come in here and create a role and niche for themselves," Caserio said at his pre-draft press conference last week. "It's probably going to be hard to make this team or make a significant impact. Hopefully, that's a good thing."

That thought process could play a significant role in Houston's draft strategy. 


NFL decision-makers love emphasizing drafting for the best available over need at this time of year, but the Texans truly have that luxury based on a potentially championship-caliber roster constructed around C.J. Stroud for 2024. Houston may even be inclined to take more risks in the draft because of the moves they've made this offseason. 

We've already seen the team trade out of the first round. The Texans last month gave up the No. 23 pick, plus No. 232 (seventh round), to the quarterback-needy Minnesota Vikings for Nos. 42 (second round) and 188 (sixth round) and a 2025 second-rounder. So while the Texans could trade back into the first round, they're currently not pegged to pick until Friday, when they'll have three selections: two in the second round (Nos. 42, 59) and one in the third round (No. 86).

Caserio's history indicates, however, that we should expect more wheeling and dealing from Houston. 

The Texans general manager broke his own franchise record for draft-day trades last year with eight, highlighted by the blockbuster deal to move up to No. 3 to take Will Anderson Jr., the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Houston also moved up in the third round for Tank Dell, who was one of the best rookie wide receivers in the league last season. In all, five of the Texans' eight draft-day trades were to move up last year. It's why you can't discount possible aggression from Caserio on Thursday or Friday. 

Houston currently has nine picks overall: Nos. 42 (second round), 59 (second round), 86 (third round), 123 (fourth round), 127 (fourth round), 188 (sixth round), 189 (sixth round), 238 (seventh round) and 247 (seventh round). 

"We'll see if that changes or stays static," Caserio said of the selections. "Given our history, it will probably change at some point." 

What are realistic expectations for the Texans?

The strength of Houston's roster this year — it saw an eight-win improvement, including playoffs, in 2023 from the season prior — could alter the calculus, though. And considering the depth of offensive linemen and wide receivers in this draft, that could also offer incentive for Houston to track back when possible. Those are two positions where the team is already set. 

The Texans added perennial pro Bowler Stefon Diggs to a receiver room that already features Dell and Nico Collins, who was eighth in the NFL last season with 1,297 receiving yards. On paper, they have one of the best wide receiver trios in the league. Houston also has bookend offensive tackles in perennial Pro Bowler Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard

Outside of possibly defensive tackle or in the secondary, Houston doesn't have a need for Day 1-caliber starters through the draft. It allows the team to think two-plus years out with prospects, and for depth with current starters. 

That's a scenario in which wide receiver could be a priority, despite present-day strength in the room. Diggs will be an unrestricted free agent after the upcoming season, because of the Texans' decision to wipe out the final three years of his deal after acquiring him from Buffalo. Veteran wideouts Robert Woods and Noah Brown, who had two games with at least 150 yards receiving last season, will also be free agents next spring. 

That's where "need" and a strength of this year's draft could align for the Texans. 

Any chance the Diggs trade backfires on Texans?

Tight end and interior offensive line are other positions where Houston should be future-minded. 

"I would say for whatever reason this year, it seems like more players are further behind [physically]," Caserio said. "Some of them have been advised after the combine or their workouts, basically don't do anything physically. They don't want them to get hurt or anything like that. Well, OK, you lose four to six months of training, which means when you come in the building in May, you're behind physically. So maybe we think the player is going to be ready physically, but part of our assessment is to see where they are, do some baseline testing. 

"We're not going to put the player in a position and kind of force-feed it," Caserio added. "A player is ready when he's ready."

In the Texans' case, they're equipped to wait with the incoming rookies. 

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for for three seasons (2018-20) prior to moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.

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