HOUSTON, Texas — Nick Caserio downplayed the likelihood of potentially finding a trading partner for the Houston Texans’ top pick in the 2022 NFL draft.
The Texans and their significant 2022 NFL Draft capital
Holding the third and 13th overall picks of the first round and five of the first 80 selections, the Texans‘ second-year general manager and former New England Patriots executive characterized his approach to potential trade as “flexible, open-minded, and adaptable.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Caserio will find a trade-back scenario to his liking at No. 3 overall. That could be a different story altogether for his second first-round draft pick. The No. 13 pick could be in play for the AFC South franchise.
“The reality is probably very few teams are going to want to come up to 3, just being honest, that’s okay,” Caserio said during a press conference Thursday afternoon at NRG Stadium. “So, probably pick at 3. Then at 13, could we go up? Could we go down? Over the next week or so, you’re going to talk to different teams just more about positioning, about, ‘What’s their philosophy? What’s their willingness to move?’
“Some teams are just set. ‘We’re not moving. We’re going to pick.’ Some teams only want to move down. Some teams say, ‘You know what? I’ve never really thought about that, but okay, maybe we’d consider moving up.’ I think it’s important just to be open-minded and be flexible. I’m a pretty flexible, open-minded individual.”
Caserio now has significant draft capital to work with after not drafting until the third round last season when he selected current starting quarterback Davis Mills out of Stanford.
After trading three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns, the Texans have 11 overall draft selections.
Team needs for the Texans in the NFL Draft
Among the Texans’ top areas of need: defensive end, offensive line, cornerback, and wide receiver.
Indeed, they have brought in Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker, Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner, Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams, and LSU corner Derek Stingley Jr. for official visits.
The Texans have multiple options for the third overall selection, including Walker, Thibodeaux, Gardner, North Carolina State offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu, Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal, and even Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson under the unlikely possibility that he’s not drafted first overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars or with the next pick by the Detroit Lions.
The Texans hold two fourth-round draft picks and have seven selections in the top 108 overall picks.
“I’ve never used the term rebuild,” Caserio said. “I think rebuild has been kind of an external term. What we’ve focused on is kind of building our team. So, how do we build our team? What are the resources we have available? What are the assets we have to deploy? That’s how we’ve viewed it.
“We have seven (picks) in the top 108, assuming that nothing changes, and I wouldn’t hold my breath on that. It’s no different. It’s try to get good players who are good people who understand we are building a program. That’s really where the focus is.”
Before Caserio and the Texans are on the clock during the draft, a significant amount of research and planning goes into being ready for however the draft board might unfold in what is typically an unpredictable night.
There’s also a lot of gauging of what potential trades may look like to better ascertain the wisdom of a move or non-move.
“What’s the cost associated with that?” Caserio said. “Or if we’re going to move up four spots what are you giving up in return? Those are things you kind of do on your own to kind of have an overall awareness and understanding, so that the first time you’re talking about a trade up or down, you’re sitting on the clock with seven minutes and some team calls and says, ‘We’re interested in pick 37, okay, here’s what it’s going to take,’ and you’re scrambling around saying: ‘We never really thought about that.’ So, you try to do some of that now, but you can’t get too caught up in that because there’s so much that could happen. Trades are really player-driven anyways.”
Caserio emphasized that the Texans exercise caution in not simply drafting based on needs or perception of needs. The goal is always to draft the best football players that fit their system.
Caserio said that the Texans regard roughly 80 to 100 players as worthy of drafting.
“You have to be careful about what your needs are or what people perceive your needs to be and then just picking players based on your needs,” Caserio said. “Pick good football players that you think are going to enhance your overall team and give yourself the opportunity to put together a sustainable team over the course of however many years.
“Our job is to develop players. Certain players may take more time than others. The attributes we look for in players are no different in drafted players, veteran players to players who have been in other programs. What can I do to be the best Houston Texan and the best teammate? That’s where the focus needs to be.”
Caserio emphasized that finding the right fit in terms of culture and the players’ character is pivotal to their draft evaluation process.
“That’s a huge part of the process,” said Caserio, whose team went 4-13 last season in his first season as he overhauled the roster. “So, when a player comes into our building, he’s a Houston Texan, and he has to embrace everything that comes along with being a Houston Texan. There are 32 buildings. They’re all different. When they walk in here, ‘Okay, here’s the standard, here’s the expectation, here’s what we ask of you each day.’
“There’s going to be a learning process they go through. What we try to do is be as comprehensive in as many areas as possible. It’s playing. It’s coaching. It’s interpersonal development. It’s strength development. It’s nutrition development. They have to figure out the city of Houston, where to live, how far they want to be from the stadium. Those are things that are important.”
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