Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio had his hands full entering this year's NFL Draft with no first- or second-round picks to work with and plenty of holes to fill on this new-look roster.
Despite this, Caserio wheeled-and-dealed his way around the draft and has managed to put together one of Houston's more all-around solid draft classes of the last few years.
"I think the rookie class, without having a first-round pick, I think our coaches, GM, everybody upstairs did a pretty good job picking up some great football players," offensive lineman Tytus Howard said.
"A lot of guys asked me about Roy (Lopez) and stuff. I think he’s been doing pretty good. Even though Jimmy (Morrissey) wasn’t a part of our rookie class, him coming in and stepping up at center, which is a huge role in this offense, I think he’s learning, getting better each and every day. Everybody knows how I feel about Davis (Mills). I think Davis has got a bright future behind him."
Another rookie to have featured more heavily in the last few weeks is tight end Brevin Jordan. He has 80 yards receiving, two touchdowns, and four first downs on nine receptions in his four games.
"I think we’ve done a tremendous job so far, just being professionals, learning under the vets and just trying to do our jobs to the best of our abilities, and just be contributors to our team," Jordan said. "I think the future for our rookie class is very bright. Our rookie class, all of us have pretty much played. We’ve contributed to the team, and I think we’re just going to continue to get better."
And one potential key to the success of this rookie class? Director of team development Dylan Thompson.
Could Texans' Top Coaching Targets Have Better Options?
Jerod Mayo and Brian Flores could elect to snub Houston if Nick Caserio doesn't act fast
BREAKING: Texans Ex J.J. Watt Moves to Roster for Cardinals vs. Rams Playoff
Houston Texans Tracker for 2021: Check back often as we keep you up-to-date on Texans NFL news as Houston works on its roster-building
Who Is Eagles Coach Jonathan Gannon? Texans Want Interview
Source: Texans request interview for Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon
"That’s my guy. Dylan Thompson, he really is just like the overseer of our rookie class," Jordan said. "We really look up to Dylan. He helps us out with a lot. He always makes sure we’re good emotionally, physically, mentally, everything. His job is huge, and it’s definitely helped me keep a positive mindset."
Thompson, a former quarterback for the former Rams and 49ers, was brought in from the Detroit Lions, where he served as a character coach, shortly after Caserio's appointment in January.
A 'disciple', if you will, of the much-maligned Texans executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby, Thompson appears to have proven valuable since his arrival in February.
"Regardless of where one's starting point might be, I feel my role within our team is to help them from that point grow," Thompson said in 2020 on the Sports Spectrum podcast.
"That could be spiritually, that could be life skills, it could be with relationships. Any lane you could think of I view my role as helping people grow. Whether that be players, staff, employees in the building that never go to a game."
Given Jordan's praise, Thompson appears to have been a positive hire. Combine his presence with the impressive group of players Caserio managed to put together with little draft capital, and this bodes well for his first draft with "real" picks in just five months' time.