Sean Pendergast

History of Houston Texan Trades Involving First Round Picks

The trade for Laremy Tunsil netted a great player, but cost a TON in draft capital
The trade for Laremy Tunsil netted a great player, but cost a TON in draft capital Photo by Eric Sauseda
The Houston Texans' trade up to the third overall pick in the 2023 draft to acquire Alabama edge fisher Will Anderson has been described with many different adjectives — bold, exciting, reckless, insane, franchise-altering. Those can all be true, but frankly, the only adjective that matters is the one we are hopefully using a couple seasons from now — effective.

Recently, on Cardinals social media, we got a cool look at how this trade came down inside the Cardinals war room. This is some amazing content, albeit content that Nick Caserio skeptics can twist into further criticism of how the trade went down for the Texans, that maybe Caserio caved too early on giving up the team's 2024 first round pick. Take a look:
Whether you like the trade, from a Texans perspective, or not, we can all agree on this — it was DEFINITELY a bold move by Caserio, the type of move the Texans have not historically made. Now, they HAVE made trades involving first round picks before. Some have worked, some have flamed spectacularly. Where does the Anderson trade end up? Well, here is the history of Texans' deals involving first round draft picks, so I'll let you all decide:

2004, JASON BABIN (27th overall)
THE TRADE: Tennessee traded its first- and fifth-round selections (27th and 159th) to Houston in exchange for Houston's second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-round selections (40th, 71st, 103rd and 138th).
SUMMARY: The Texans moved up 13 spots into the back end of the first round for some draft capital that essentially amounted to the equivalent of a second round pick. Babin was a rotational defensive end, who never really fit Dom Capers' scheme. He bounced around the league until finally exploding for 30.5 sacks over two seasons with the Titans and Eagles at age 30 and 31.

DID IT WORK OUT: Not for the Texans, it didn't

2005, TRAVIS JOHNSON (16th overall)
THE TRADE: New Orleans traded their first-round selections (16th overall) and their 2006 third round pick to Houston in exchange for Houston's first-round selection (13th overall)
SUMMARY: GM Charley Casserly was fine moving back a few spots and drafting Johnson out of Florida State. That Aaron Rodgers was still on the board when they picked at 16th overall is retroactively painful (as it is for every team that passed on Rodgers, who went 24th overall to the Packers). Johnson never lived up to his first round draft slot, but the Texans did use the third round pick in 2006 to draft Eric Winston, who started for six seasons at right tackle.

DID IT WORK OUT: The Johnson part, no, but the Winston part, yes

2007, AMOBI OKOYE (10th overall)
THE TRADE: Houston traded its first- and second-round selections (8th and 39th overall, used to select Jamaal Anderson and Justin Blalock, respectively) in 2007, as well as their second-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft for Atlanta's first-round selection in 2007 (10th overall, used to select Amobi Okoye) and Matt Schaub.

SUMMARY: This particular trade was way more about Schaub than Okoye. The Texans gave up two second round picks and agreed to flip flop spots in the 2007 first round, a mere two draft slots. So, oddly enough, the first round pick portion of this deal was window dressing for the Texans' acquiring their franchise QB.

DID IT WORK OUT: It worked out GREAT, until Schaub started throwing the ball to the other team on the regular in 2013.

2008, DUANE BROWN (26th overall)
THE TRADE: Houston traded its first-round selection to Baltimore for the first-round and (second) third-round selections Baltimore acquired from Jacksonville, and a sixth-round selection (No. 26, 89, and 173).

SUMMARY: I think both teams are happy with this deal, with the Ravens using their pick to land future Super Bowl winner, Joe Flacco, and the Texans drafting Duane Brown with the 26th overall pick. As a bonus, the Texans used that 89th pick they acquired to draft RB Steve Slaton, who led the AFC in yards from scrimmage as a rookie.

DID IT WORK OUT: Yes, this one worked out beautifully

Washington traded its first-round selection (21st) to Houston in exchange for Houston's first-round selection (22nd) and their 2017 sixth-round selection.
SUMMARY: This one is kind of a popcorn fart, with the Texans giving up a sixth round pick to move up one spot and draft WR Will Fuller, who was FANTASTIC when he was healthy. Unfortunately, he was healthy like half the time.

DID IT WORK OUT: Ultimately, the Fuller selection did not work out as planned, but the act of trading up for him was inconsequential.

2017, DESHAUN WATSON (12th overall)
THE TRADE: Cleveland traded a first-round selection (12th) to Houston in exchange for Houston's first-round selections (25th) as well as a first-round selection in 2018.

SUMMARY: This was undoubtedly one of the most exciting nights in franchise history, with the Texans finding their franchise quarterback (and yes, it got very complicated a few seasons later). The Texans' going 4-12 in 2017 made that 2018 first round pick a VERY high pick, and the Browns landed CB Denzel Ward.

DID IT WORK OUT: Yes, in that Watson was a star for three-plus years. No, for everything that happened off the field. Again, COMPLICATED.

THE TRADE: Houston traded a 2020 first-round selection, 2021 first- and second-round selections as well as offensive tackle Julién Davenport and defensive back Johnson Bademosi to Miami in exchange for wide receiver Kenny Stills, offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, a 2020 fourth-round selection, and a 2021 sixth-round selection.

SUMMARY: This was a Bill O'Brien Special, done just days before the 2019 regular season. Gutting the top of not one, but two drafts was a decision that the franchise is still recovering from to this day, and this is with Tunsil actually becoming an All Pro caliber player! However, the rest of the franchise crumbled around him, and we learned that a Pro Bowl left tackle isn't nearly as valuable with nothing worthwhile to protect. .

DID IT WORK OUT: No. That is all. Just, no.

2022, KENYON GREEN (15th overall)
THE TRADE: Houston traded its first-round selection (13th overall) to Philadelphia in exchange for a first-, a fourth- and two fifth-round selections (15th, 124th, 162nd and 166th overall).
SUMMARY: The 13th overall pick was the first of the three first round picks that the Texans acquired for Deshaun Watson. When the time came for that pick, Georgia DT Jordan Davis and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton were there for the taking, but Nick Caserio chose to move back two spots, pick up a slew of Day 3 picks and draft left guard Kenyon Green. Green struggled mightily as a rookie, and comes into camp this season having undergone a procedure on his knee back in March.

DID IT WORK OUT: So far, so bad.

2023, WILL ANDERSON (3rd overall)
THE TRADE: Arizona traded its first- and fourth-round selections (3rd and 105th overall) to Houston in exchange for first- and second-round selections (12th and 33rd overall), and 2024 first- and third-round selections.

Anderson has yet to put pads on, but all the reports from offseason activities and inside the building have been glowing. We shall see.


Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at, on Instagram at, and like him on Facebook at
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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.
Contact: Sean Pendergast