Diamond In The Rough: Texans NFL Draft Strategy

The Houston Texans have been in this spot before and struck gold in the past.
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HOUSTON -- People outside the NFL Draft world likely view first-round picks as the "can't-miss" gems of the class. In reality, there are as many strikeouts as home runs.

The Houston Texans won't have a first-or second-round selection in 2021 thanks to the Laremy Tunsil deal of 2019. Too bad, as they would've held the No. 3 selection - though the Pro Bowl left tackle has been worthy of just that since arriving in NRG Stadium. 

Some view the Texans as doomed since they won't select until No. 67 overall. The last time they were in this mess came back in 2018 when picking at No. 68. 

The selection? Stanford safety Justin Reid. In the three years since leaving Palo Alto, he's developed into one of the Texans' top defensive players. A contract extension should be on the horizon. 

And maybe so should a sliver of optimism.

READ MORE: Another Kamara? Texans At 67: What NFL Draft History Says They'll Get

Houston's under a new regime with first-year GM Nick Caserio and first-time head coach David Culley. Expectations are already low due in part to the Deshaun Watson drama, but certain issues are not something Caserio hasn't dealt with before. 

Alright, a quarterback asking for a trade and facing serious allegations isn't a common occurrence, but Caserio is confident in what could be done when on Houston is on the clock. 

“I think the most important thing is to evaluate the players, have an understanding of the board top to bottom, and whatever opportunity you have to pick, be ready to pick the player you feel most comfortable with,” Caserio said at his press conference last Friday.

As a member of the New England Patriots staff in 2017, after trading their first-rounder for Brandin Cooks and their second for Kony Ealy. Caserio and Belichick missed on three of the four selections. 

Derrick Rivers is now a depth piece in Houston. Antonio Garcia never played a down. Conor McDermott was waived before Week 1. Ealy also was waived before final cuts. 

At least Deatrich Wise Jr. has recorded 14 career sacks, right? He was a fourth-round pick. 

Houston added 38 players in trades and free agency, yet still have needs on both sides. Caserio's reasoning for adding so many names on such little deals is to bolster the competition. 

READ MORE: Catch 22? Watson Lawyer Says Women Are Lying

The best man for the job will be the one seeing reps Sunday afternoons. 

"What we've tried to do ... is just create as much competition on the roster as we possibly could," Caserio said. 

The work is not done. That "competition" could come in the form of diamonds in the rough found on Friday and Saturday night. 

Reid is one example of a budding standout found in the mid-rounds, but role players also can add value to a team needing help at each position. With their final pick of the third round in 2018, then-GM Brian Gaine elected to add pass-catching tight end Jordan Akins. 

Since coming out of UCF, Akins has recorded 90 catches for 1,046 yards and three touchdowns. 

Five picks after Akins, the Texans added Keke Coutee. The slender slot target's Texans career has been hampered with poor plays and costly errors. However, he was consistent inside down the stretch, recording 33 catches for 400 yards and three touchdowns while averaging a career-best 12.4 yards. 

Anyone remember DJ Reader? The nose tackle for the Texans during the pinnacle height of their top defense? He was pick No. 166 out of Clemson by then-GM Rick Smith. 

READ MORE: How Texans Could Draft A 'No. 1 CB'

Caserio comes from the Bill Belichick background of banking on bargain talent. The good names added from the bottom of the barrel make up an long list over the past 20 years and six Lombardi trophies. 

Just to name a few drafted after the No. 67 pick? Wide receiver Julian Edelman (No. 232), offensive guard Joe Thuney (No. 78), running back James White (No. 130), defensive end Trey Flowers (No. 130), and offensive guard Shaq Mason (No.131).

If you really want to dumpster-dive, names like cornerback Malcolm Butler, center David Andrews, cornerback Jonathan Jones, wide receiver Jakobi Myers and cornerback J.C. Jackson all received a call after Mr. Irrelevant was picked. 

Jackson, who was expected to be a special-teamer at best, finished second in interceptions last season and was assigned a second-round tender worth $3.84 million to remain in Foxborough.

"We're going to evaluate the players, do what we feel is the best for us, try to find the right people that we think are going to fit the Houston Texans, and hopefully it works out and we can coach them and develop them and they make improvement," Caserio said. 

Caserio's background has prepared him to face whatever is ahead. For the Texans, it's not about when they pick, but rather who is the right pick at the right time.

CONTINUE READING: Texans D Needs 'High School Mentality,' Says Lovie