Texans move up in third round to draft former USC safety

The Texans have made a big move in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft, trading up eight spots to select in the slot formerly owned by the Eagles. Houston is sending the Eagles its third- (86th) and fourth-round (123rd) picks in exchange for the 78th overall pick in third round.

With the pick, the Texans have selected USC safety Calen Bullock, ballhawk in Los Angeles for the Trojans. Earning a starting role partway through his freshman season, Bullock tallied two interceptions and five passes defensed en route to Freshman All-American honors. Bullock exploded onto the scene as a sophomore, leading USC with five interceptions and 10 passes defensed. He earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors for his efforts.

Last year, despite opposing quarterbacks having plenty of tape telling them not to throw his way, Bullock continued to dominate. With 61 tackles, two interceptions, and nine passes defensed, Bullock finished his collegiate career with first-team All-Pac-12 honors.

It was interesting to hear the team announce Bullock as a “defensive back” as some NFL draft boards had Bullock as a cornerback at the professional level. He has the ball skills and body control to play cornerback, though his college production came at safety and nickel.

Steven Nelson, a two-year Houston starting CB, remains in free agency; the Texans needed to find a cornerback to start opposite Derek Stingley. They brought in Jeff Okudah, a former top-three overall pick who has struggled so far at the NFL level, and then drafted Georgia cornerback Kamari Lassiter earlier tonight in the third round. Lassiter could thrive more in a nickelback role, though, so perhaps Houston doesn’t see Bullock as a cornerback.

Perhaps, the Texans see Bullock as the eventual replacement to veteran safety Jimmie Ward, who missed seven regular-season games and two playoff matchups in his age-32 season. Ward’s two-year deal concludes after this season, so Bullock may be seen as the eventual starter next to Jalen Pitre in 2025 and beyond. Regardless, Bullock’s versatility should help him see the field plenty as a rookie.

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