HOUSTON -- Some people seem to only care about the NFL Draft during the first round. In reality, it's Day 2 and 3 where talent and the next generation of the league is often found.
It's also probably why you haven't heard much of the Houston Texans. (Unless you read TexansDaily.com, of course.) They won't be picking until No. 67 and have to hope for talent to fall into the third round.
First-time GM Nick Caserio understands what it takes to build a roster. For 20 years, he worked alongside the New England Patriots staff, adding talent late and building a six-time championship team.
What did New England value more than a high pick? Multiple picks. According to Caserio, it's a similar concept this year.
“It’s not like you’re going through your evaluation process and saying, ‘Well, we don’t have a first- or second-round pick (and) this player isn’t going to be there, so we’re not going to worry about him,’” Caserio told reporters earlier this month. “It’s kind of irresponsible.
“We’ve done a lot of research (and) we have a lot of information. It’s never one particular thing that goes into making those decisions.”
Houston could move up into the second round. Some could value the No. 67 pick, offering more than what it's worth in a trade down. What will the Texans do? Here's five predictions to watch for draft weekend in Houston.
1. Houston will trade down from the No. 67 pick
Caserio comes from New England, which means he's watched Bill Belichick trade down for more picks instead of selecting early. During his pre-draft presser, the Texans GM stated that the draft as a whole was an "overhyped process", meaning, in a sense, selections are a dime a dozen.
When looking at picks past No. 67 that New England took, they turned out of be Pro Bowl-caliber players. Heck, several are considered one of the best at the respective position four to five years into their careers.
The reason? Coaching. That's more valuable than the pick.
Houston currently holds eight draft picks. After adding players this offseason, depth is not the need. Starters are.
Caserio could bundle packages by trading back to trade up later. Say a team offers a third and fourth-round pick for No. 67? That adds more to move up late.
The first 10 picks of each round is made up of players who maybe should have been considered the round before. If the Texans like what's available a little later, No. 67 is valuable to other rosters, meaning Caserio could up the price to move back even just several spots.
2. Three defensive needs are met early
Houston has been one of the busiest teams this off-season. They've added more players than one could count, primarily on one year deals.
There are two positions though that weren't significantly upgraded: cornerback and defensive tackle. Expect Houston to target both early somewhere on Day 2.
A name like Kentucky's Kelvin Joseph or Syracuse's Ifeatu Melifonwu could be a faller to No. 67. Both are better zone corners and fit what Lovie Smith's 4-3 defense is expected to run in a more Cover 2 approach.
Even in a trade back, Joseph still could be available. If gone, Central Arkansas' Robert Rochell is a draft diamond in the rough. He excelled in coverage for the Bears' defense.
Louisiana Tech's Milton Williams might be a good fit for Smith's front seven. A smaller frame, but huge intangibles and record-setting numbers for a defensive lineman athletically, he's a fine 3-tech to help Maliek Collins and replace Brandon Dunn.
Dunn has been rumored for months to be shipped out as a cap casualty.
Safety could also use an upgrade if the team no longer believes in third-year player Lonnie Johnson Jr. Expect this to be part of the Round 4 or Round 5 chatter. Names like Missouri's Joshua Bledsoe, Cincinnati's Darrick Forrest and USC's Talanoa Hufanga all could pair well with roaming veteran Justin Reid.
Expect all three positions to have a new face in May when they start learning coach David Culley's system.
3. Houston will have two third-round picks
As mentioned, the Texans could trade back from No. 67 to later trade up. It'll all be about the talent on the big board and where they think they could land "their guy" before it's too late.
In the past, teams have offered at least a mid-fourth rounder to move up say 10 spots into the 65-75 range. The Texans currently hold the No. 109 pick in the fourth-round and picks No. 147 and No. 158 in the fifth.
Pairing one of the fourths added from a trade back and one of the fifths might be enough to have Houston land somewhere in 100-105 range. From there, adding either a defensive tackle or wide receiver could be the best plan of action.
If say the pick traded is one of those slots, a cornerback would take top priority. Either way, it's about quality for Caserio's draft after a quantity-sized free agency.
Should a player be available late, using the draft capital earned on the trade down should land them back in Day 2.
4. The Texans draft a QB
As much as nobody wants to admit it, the Texans have to consider adding a quarterback. Even if Watson is cleared of all 22 civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct and sexual assault, he still has stated he wants out of Houston.
Houston understands they could sell Watson's stock once cleared of the allegations. Although maybe he won't go for a multitude of selections, he still should be worth at least one first-round pick and several day-two options.
Does that mean Houston drafts a QB early? We say maybe.
According to The Athletic's Dane Brugler, the Round 3 QBs would be Stanford's Davis Mills, Texas A&M's Kellen Mond and Florida's Kyle Trask. No. 67 might be too rich with other needs, but a trade back up for Houston native Trask or a falling Aggie Mond could make sense.
Neither would be expected to play Week 1 and both could learn under Tyrod Taylor similar to that of Baker Mayfield or Justin Herbert. If they work, great. If not, well, Caserio can get "his QB" in 2022 early.
5. Illinois WR Josh Imatorbhebhe will be a Houston Texans steal
Houston needs a true No. 1 wide receiver. Randall Cobb could be a cap hit and likely won't be back in 2022. The same could be said for Brandin Cooks, who finished last year with his fifth 1,000-yard season.
If you've heard the name Josh Imatorbhebe, you've understood why we love him. The 6'2" receiver is one of the most gifted athletic freaks in this year's class, crushing his Pro Day and showing the upside he brings to an offense as both a route-runner and vertical threat.
The former Fighting Illini is one of the rare players that the Patriots would love to develop into a star. Illinois' last head coach was Smith, who now is in Houston. The Patriots' ex personnel member is Caserio.
You get the idea.
Imatorbhebe likely will be a Day 3 steal for one team. Should Houston have the chance to grab him late in Round 4 via trade or early Round 5, they must act quick. Of the late-round players to flourish, Imatorbhebe might be the best of the bunch.
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