Since the hire of DeMeco Ryans as Houston Texans head coach, it's been widely noticed by many that Texans general manager Nick Caserio's mood has been lighter and his demeanor more candid and engaging. Maybe this is what happened when you survive back to back years of David Culley and Lovie Smith as head coach of your team, or maybe it's just coincidence, but this has been a different Caserio we've seen over the last couple months.
The "new" Caserio was on full display last Friday in an exclusive 35 minute conversation with me and my cohost, former Texans defensive lineman Seth Payne, a chat in which Caserio did everything from give a minute by minute account of the Will Anderson trade to openly admit that he was a poor test taker in high school (as part of a response about QB C.J. Stroud's reportedly low S2 cognitive test).
Here were, in my opinion, the four most interesting things Caserio divulged last Friday on SportsRadio 610 (with embedded audio for each item):
As has been well documented, new Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud reportedly scored the lowest of all the incoming rookie quarterbacks on the s2 cognitive test, a standardized test which is not an intelligence test, but instead measures traits such as impulse control and reaction to various stimuli. Stroud's score did not deter the Texans from using a high pick on him, and perhaps that's because Caserio can relate to Stroud, not only as a former quarterback himself, but also a former subpar text taker. Caserio revealed that he scored below a 1,000 on the SAT back in the day, making him a rare sub-1,000 SAT scorer earning an annual income of over $5 million per year.
The groundwork was laid days before the trade for Will Anderson
The two clips of audio above revealed a couple things about the trade that rocked the top of the draft, the Will Anderson trade. First, the groundwork for the trade had been laid several days before the draft, so once the Texans selected Stroud, the Cardinals reached out to the Texans, and then it was up to Caserio and Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort to hammer out the final details. Second, the shot clock was winding down on this deal, so even with the initial groundwork laid out, there was still a puncher's chance the deal didn't get done, which means that the Texans were a minute away from Stroud at QB and then the best edge rusher on the board at 12th overall as their next choice. Lukas Van Ness, anybody?
Caserio ain't thinking about 2024 right now
The biggest and most controversial asset Caserio gave up in the trade up for Anderson was the Texans' first round pick in 2024, a selection that most experts believe is a lock to be a top five pick. I don't know that I agree with those experts, as I think the Texans will be much improved, but critics of Caserio and of this deal are using that as a foundational piece of their negative evaluation of the deal. When asked if he factored the team's prospects this coming season into the calculus of including the Texans' No. 1 pick in 2024, Caserio basically said he didn't factor it in, and he will worry about 2024 when 2024 gets here. It's a response that acutely agitated critics of the trade, and I would say for myself, as someone who was in favor of the trade (despite the overpay), I find it hard to believe that a quick evaluation of the 2023 Texans didn't at least cross Caserio's mind before taking the plunge on including their 2024 first round pick.
Caserio would have likely still traded for Will Anderson even if the Texans were picking 1st overall
There are a dozen different ways you can view the trade up for Anderson, and how you view it probably is a window as to whether or not you approve of the deal, and to what degree you approve of it. One view of the trade basically says that the move up to the third pick was facilitated by the fact that the Texans also picked second in the draft. In other words, it was an easier scenario in which you can control the outcome when you own consecutive picks. Caserio, though, basically said that if the Texans had the first pick in the draft, not the second, that they would definitely have entertained the move up to three in a trade with Arizona. Bottom line — they really, really love Will Anderson, the player and the person.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.