Sean Pendergast

Four Thoughts on the Houston Texans' 2021 NFL Draft

Nick Caserio's first draft as Texans' GM is in the books.
Nick Caserio's first draft as Texans' GM is in the books. Screen grab from YouTube
Throughout the Texans' very turbulent and strange offseason, we have speculated as to how exactly general manager Nick Caserio would attack the NFL Draft, his first as the man in charge of an NFL roster construction, or maybe RECONSTRUCTION is the more appropriate description for the Texans' situation. If free agency were any indicator, he would likely load up on picks and try to take as many swings as possible.

It turned out to be the exact opposite of that approach, as, for the second straight year, the Houston Texans came away from the draft with just five newly drafted players to add to the roster, Unlike Bill O'Brien's only draft as GM of the team, though, Caserio's draft had a little more sizzle, as he came away with an interesting quarterback prospect (Stanford's Davis Mills) with his first pick, and he gutted his Day 3 supply of picks (and tossed a 2022 pick in for good measure) for the sake of maneuvering the draft board.

Rome wasn't built in a day, and it is certainly going to take more than a few drafts to rebuild the Texans in the aftermath of the Great O'Brien Destruction of 2019 and 2020. However, this past weekend was an interesting start to the process. My hunch is that, due to the plethora of short-time veterans on the roster, and the severe dearth of young drafted players, barring an astounding 180 degree turn in the Deshaun Watson situation, things will get worse before they get better.

Here are some further thoughts:

Davis Mills — one more indicator Deshaun is gone
My hypothetical 180 degree turn that I mention above regarding Watson addresses both the legal issues surrounding Watson AND the professional divide right now between team and player. If we are looking at Caserio's biggest move of the weekend, drafting Mills with his first pick as GM, this would seem to be the behavior of a GM who is moving onto another solution at quarterback, or at the very least, hedging his bets that Watson will be gone at some point, either for the season (i.e. suspended) or forever (i.e. traded). For what its worth, Davis has a fairly decorated pedigree as a five star recruit out of Georgia, and the draft experts that I've followed seem to like him as the best of the second tier of quarterbacks in this draft. My guess is Tyrod Taylor is the Texans' starter in Week 1, but who knows? In a rebuild, nobody's jobs are guaranteed.


NIck Caserio made moves, but did he get the price right?
Unlike the previous two general managers, Brian Gaine and Bill O'Brien, once he got the Mills selection done, Nick Caserio was wheeling and dealing. Just when we thought that the second night of the draft was done after the Mills pick, Caserio moved back into the third round to take WR Nico Collins from Michigan. Then, on Day 3, Caserio ended up swapping out two of his sixth round pick, and his seventh round pick to eventually end up with TCU ILB Garret Wallow. Here are the highlights for both players:



I don't have an issue with Caserio moving up and down the draft board. It's still too early in his tenure NOT to trust his evaluation of certain players. I am a little surprised at two things. First, I am surprised Caserio finished the draft with fewer players than he would have had at the outset — he started with eight picks, and trades left him with just five — all while NOT supplementing next year's draft with more picks. In fact, he dipped into the 2022 picks to move up and get Collins. In other words, the net of four extra picks (three this year, one next year) that he sacrificed to get Collins and Wallow feels a little pricy.

The Brevin Jordan pick was nice, though
This was another thing that got Texan fans worked up — using one of their five picks on a tight end. In a four year window where the team has been missing major draft capital, they've used four picks on tight ends, three of whom are now on the roster. (You could argue that the tight end that got people most excited about really anything from that position last season was Pharaoh Brown, who they signed off the street. So there's that, too.) That said, Brevin Jordan has some very suable qualities in the passing game. His highlights are below, but for what it's worth, going into Day 3, Texans draft analyst John Harris (the best in the business, for my money) had Jordan as the best available player on Day 3, and had him as the 37th best player among ALL players in the draft. The Texans got him with the 147th pick.


Don't ever trade our first two picks ever again!

Time will tell if these five players work out for the Texans. Obviously, if we are picking one we would prefer to work out, it's Mills, who plays the most important position in the sport, and is now on a team that appears to be on a road to nowhere with its franchise quarterback. If there is one non-player-specific takeaway I have for this draft, it is that I beg Nick Caserio to please never, ever trade away the team's first and second round picks ever again. Sitting and watching all of the teams you're chasing (which is literally the entire league right now, because the Texans are perceived to be ahead of nobody) improve for a night and a half before making a pick is as brutal as it gets for a sports fan (or media member).

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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 afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast