The stakes are high

How 2024 NFL Draft is giving off unfamiliar vibes for post-rebuild Texans

Texans Nick Caserio, Roger Goodell draft
The Texans drafted in the first round FOUR times in the past two years. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Houston Texans won last year’s NFL draft by taking quarterback and AP Offensive Rookie of the Year C.J. Stroud with the No. 2 pick before trading up to draft defensive end and AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Will Anderson Jr. third overall.

There will be a lot less excitement in Houston in this year’s draft as the Texans don’t have a first-round pick and won’t select until the 10th pick of the second round with the 42nd overall selection.

However, coach DeMeco Ryans has said that he considers the second and third rounds the “sweet spot” of the draft and is looking forward to adding more guys who can contribute to his team.

“We continue to add guys who fit the Texans’ culture,” Ryans said. “And that’s guys who are made of the right mindset, guys who have that relentless mindset, guys who are true competitors, guys who love football, guys who love pushing their teammates to be their best, guys who want to be the best at what they do. We add those type of players to our locker room, that’s how we follow up a great draft last year.”

The 42nd pick is one of nine selections the Texans have in this draft as they try to add pieces to help them take another step this year after going from worst to first in the AFC South last season.

Houston already boosted its offense this offseason with the blockbuster trade for star receiver Stefon Diggs and the deal that brought running back Joe Mixon to Houston. But Ryans said those moves won’t change the way they approach the draft.

“Just because we’ve added guys at a lot of different positions, that doesn’t stop us from evaluating every position and looking at every avenue to continue to upgrade our team and continue to get our team better,” he said. “So, for the draft process, our process will be exactly the same. Who can we add to our team that adds value to our locker room and adds value to us on the field?”

PICK ’EM

The Texans don’t have a first-round pick this season because of two trades. They shipped their own selection in the opening round at No. 27 to Arizona last year as part of the deal to trade up to nab Anderson. They also had the 23rd pick in the first round, which they received as part of the Deshaun Watson trade. They sent that pick to Minnesota last month for No. 42, a sixth-round pick this year and the Vikings’ second-round pick next year.

NEEDS

Last month the most glaring need for this team would be to add another receiver to join Nico Collins and Tank Dell. Acquiring Diggs changed that, but it still couldn’t hurt to add more talent at the position for the future.

A big need for this team is defensive tackle after both of their starters at the position from last season are no longer with the team. Sheldon Rankins signed with the Bengals this offseason and Maliek Collins was traded to San Francisco for a seventh-round draft pick.

The Texans signed former Titan Denico Autry, who had 11½ sacks last season, but could still use some depth at the position.

DON’T NEED

The Texans should be set for years at quarterback after drafting Stroud last season. Their offensive line is also solid with left tackle Laremy Tunsil and right tackle Tytus Howard leading the group.

WHEELING AND DEALING

Houston general manager Nick Caserio has shown a propensity for trading draft picks since being hired by the Texans in 2021. Of course, his biggest trade was the one that allowed them to vault up from the 12th pick to No. 3 to get Anderson, but it’s far from his only one.

Only three of the Texans’ picks in this draft were originally theirs, with the other six coming via trades. They got a sixth-round pick this year in the deal for Diggs and a seventh-round selection in the Mixon trade.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome