‘Movement is Contingent’: Could Texans Trade Back into First Round of NFL Draft?

The Houston Texans are entering the 2024 NFL Draft without a first-round pick. But given their background, could they trade back into the top 32 selections?Dec 24, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio walks on the field

HOUSTON — The 2024 NFL Draft will begin Thursday night. But for the first time since 2021, the Houston Texans must wait an extra day before making their first selection at pick No. 42.

The Texans traded their first-round pick (No. 23 overall) and a seventh-rounder to the Minnesota Vikings on March 15. They received the No. 42 selection, a sixth-round pick, and a 2025 second-rounder in the deal. Houston sent the latter to the Buffalo Bills to land All-Pro wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

However, since taking over as general manager in 2021, Nick Caserio has established a reputation for being aggressive during the draft. And given his background, it will not be surprising if he finds a way to move the Texans back into the first round.

“We’ve always been open-minded and flexible and adaptable,” Caserio said. “Movement is contingent, really player driven. It’s supply and demand. What are the resources available? If you bypass a player at a certain level, what’s the opportunity you could get an equivalent player at a different point.”

Caserio has made a handful of impacful trades during the draft. His first deal came in 2021 when the Texans traded up for wide receiver Nico Collins at pick 89. Caserio replicated the move in back-to-back drafts at the same position by trading up for John Metchie III (2022) and Tank Dell (2023). He also traded up to acquire former Alabama prospect Christian Harris at pick No. 75 during the 2022 NFL Draft.

However, Caserio’s best draft day trade occurred during the first round in 2023. After selecting quarterback C.J. Stroud at pick No. 2, he sent a hefty package to the Arizona Cardinals for the third selection, used to draft Defensive Rookie of the Year winner Will Anderson Jr.

The information assembled throughout the process and the prospects’ service are the top characteristics of Caserio’s decision about whether to trade up or down during the draft.

“That’s been our thought process and mindset since the we’ve been here and probably continue that moving forward,” he said.

The Texans have nine picks entering their fourth draft with Caserio at the helm. Yet, he acknowledged during his pre-draft media availability on April 18 that Houston’s draft order could “probably change at some point,” given his tenure.

“There are probably some players we brought in for visits that we wouldn’t draft, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be interested in them,” Caserio said. “We’re just trying to gather as much information along the way as possible.

At the NFL Combine in February, defensive tackle Byron Murphy II and cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry appeared to be prominent prospects for Houston. Both players are entering the draft as mid-to-late first-round picks, making the challenge of drafting back into the first round a realistic goal for the Texans.

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