Houston Texans Go All-In for 2024 Season with Aggressive Offseason Moves

Now that Stefon Diggs is officially a member of the Houston Texans, it’s evident that the AFC South franchise is going all-in for 2024.

No, the Texans were always going to be competitive following a breakout first year under DeMeco Ryans and C.J. Stroud, but general manager Nick Caserio wanted to be aggressive. Ownership realized with Stroud on a rookie contract, investments come in the form of free agents.

Houston didn’t micromanage this offseason. Yes, several moves like signing Jeff Okuah to a one-year, $4.25 million deal and Foley Fatukasi to a one-year deal worth up to $5 million were similar to years past, but Caserio broke the bank with several major acquisitions.

Danielle Hunter comes to Houston fresh off a record-setting season with the Minnesota Vikings on a two-year, $51 million deal.

Azeez Al-Shaair takes over the middle on a three-year contract worth $34 million.

Diggs, whom the Texans traded a 2025 second-round pick to the Buffalo Bills, will be a free agent next offseason, but he’ll earn $22.5 million for the upcoming campaign. And Joe Mixon was entering the final year of his deal before Caserio rewarded him with a three-year extension worth $27 million.

Sights head to the draft as the days to Detriot wind-down. The Texans won’t have don’t have a first-round pick after trading it to the Vikings, but there’s ample talent for positions of need in Rounds 2, 3, and 4. And Houston’s nine picks could be valuable in a trade-up or trade-down scenario, so don’t expect Caserio to stand pat given his track record.

What positions should Houston target at picks No. 42 and No. 59? Here’s a look at several areas of weakness and potential fits for the franchise.

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

Perhaps the biggest head-scratcher of Houston’s offseason is its willingness to go cheap at the interior defensive tackle spot. Denico Autry will shift inside on pass-rushing downs, but he was a promising defensive end with the Titans last season. Fatukasi should replace Maliek Collins, but Mario Edwards Jr. likely won’t cut it in place of Sheldon Rankins.

While Texas stat Byron Murphy was a hot name for Houston at pick No. 23, he’s likely off the board before the end of the first round. There’s plenty of upside past him that should be in play in Round 2 and could even compete for starting reps by midseason.

Prospects to remember: Illinois’ Johnny Netwon, Florida State’s Braden Fiske, Texas’ T’Vondre Sweat, LSU’s Maason Smith, LSU’s Mekhi Wingo, Ohio State’s Michael Hall Jr., Oregon’s Brandon Dorlus

(Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports)

Houston added two former top 10 picks to replace Steven Nelson, but neither is a sure thing. C.J. Henderson struggled in coverage last season after promising results in 2022. Okudah flashed in Atlanta following a trade from Detriot, but he was benched at one point for several games after struggling in zone.

At No. 23, Houston could have targeted potentially Iowa’s Cooper DeJean or Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry. McKinstry still could be in play after suffering a Linfristic foot injury, but DeJean’s versatility will make him an easy first-round pick. Cornerback in general is stacked at the top, and Houston’s 23rd-ranked pass defense needs at least one prospect to push Henderson and Okduah for reps opposite Derek Stingley Jr.

Prospects to remember: Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry, Georgia’s Kamari Lassiter, Iowa State’s TJ Tampa, Missouri’s Ennis Rakestraw Jr., Michigan’s Mike Sainristil, Auburn’s DJ James, Rutgers’ Max Melton

Minnesota Golden Gophers linebacker Ryan Selig (33) and Minnesota Golden Gophers defensive back Tyler Nubin (27) celebrate a defensive stop during the NCAA football game against the Purdue Boilermakers, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind. Purdue Boilermakers won 49-30.

Jalen Pitre and Jimmie Ward will likely start again in 2024. Does that mean they have to play safety? Not entirely after lackluster play in 2023.

Pitre, who won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2021, thrived as Baylor in the nickel. Ward started his NFL career as a nickel defender and even played a bit in the slot in 2022 with the San Francisco.

Talent-wise, there’s not a name worth monitoring at pick No. 42, but No. 59 and No. 85, there should be promising prospects looking for their chance to break out.

Prospects to remember: Minnesota’s Tyler Nubin, Georgia’s Javon Bullard, Utah’s Cole Bishop, Miami’s Kam Kitchens, Georgia’s Tykee Smith

Nov 9, 2023; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; Louisville Cardinals running back Isaac Guerendo (23) runs the ball against Virginia Cavaliers defensive end Paul Akere (1) during the first half at L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing 23rd in rushing, Houston knew it needed to upgrade. Mixon, who turns 28 this offseason, is coming off another 1,000-yard season, but there’s some concerns nationally that he he could regress similar to Dalvin Cook following his departure from Minnesota.

For now, Mixon should be the lead back. He and Dameon Pierce likely split carries as a 1-2 tandem, but the Texans could use another option. Maybe a receiving threat? How about a red zone runner to punch it in at the goal line?

Day 3 should be a prime destination for the Texans to add another element to their offense on the ground.

Prospects to remember: Notre Dame’s Audric Estime, Tennessee’s Jabari Small, Clemson’s Will Shipley, Kentucky’s Ray Davis, Oregon’s Bucky Irving, Washington’s Dillon Johnson, Missouri’s Cody SchraderLouisville’s Isaac Guerendo, Troy’s Kimali Vidal

(Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

Is it a major need? Not at all given Al-Shaair’s arrival and a breakout season from Christain Harris. Is it one the Texans could target early on? According to multiple mock drafts, yes.

Houston often will run countless three-linebacker sets, so it’s not shocking to see the positon be an area of need now that Blake Cashman and Denzel Perryman are gone. Although the drop-off from the top three talents to the rest, there’s upside similar to second-year player Henry To’oTo’o.

Prospects to remember: Texas A&M’s Edgerrin Cooper, Michigan’s Junior Colson, NC State’s Payton Wilson, Clemson’s Jeremiah Trotter Jr.,, Missouri’s Ty’ron Hopper, Texas’ Jaylan Ford

2024-04-07 22:44:00
#Texans #turn #NFL #draft #Stefon #Diggs #trade

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