Saying that it has been a rollercoaster of an offseason for the Houston Texans would be an understatement.
Franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson requested a trade in January, and now 22 civil lawsuits alleging inappropriate sexual behavior and sexual assault have been filed against him. Texans icon J.J. Watt departed for the Arizona Cardinals, and a new head coach has been hired in former Ravens passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach David Culley.
Without a first or second-round pick due to the Laremy Tunsil trade, new general manager Nick Caserio had his work cut out for him to improve the roster. With that said, here’s a recap of Caserio’s first draft at the helm.
The Texans could have gone in a lot of different directions here. But with Watson’s future with the team uncertain, Houston decided to take a chance on a quarterback they could develop as their future starter. A five-star recruit out of high school, Mills only has 11 career starts under his belt during his career with the Cardinal. He’s had two major knee injuries: one his senior year of high school, and one at Stanford.
In five games in 2020’s shortened season, Mills completed 129 of 195 passes for 1,508 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He also rushed for three scores. After the season, he was recognized with an All-Pac-12 honorable mention by conference coaches. Overall, Mills finished with 18 touchdowns against 8 interceptions during his college career.
Veteran Tyrod Taylor has been signed as a bridge QB to a one-year deal, and could be the starter Week 1 depending on what happens with Watson. But, it would not be surprising to see Mills take the field this season if the coaching staff and front office want to see what they have in him. Best case scenario, Mills develops into Houston’s post-Watson starter — or he is a project QB at worst and the team looks into a top prospect in next year’s draft.
With the receiver group not having much depth behind Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb and Keke Coutee, Houston traded back into the third-round to grab Collins. The team sent their fourth-round pick (109th overall), fifth-round pick (158th) and a 2022 fourth-rounder to the Carolina Panthers in the deal. Collins is a big target, listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. In his last year as a Wolverine in 2019, Collins caught 37 passes for 729 yards in 12 games. His seven touchdowns led the team, and his 19.7 yards per catch were first in the Big Ten. Collins was awarded Michigan’s offensive player of the year after the season. He opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns about COVID-19, according to Texans lead writer Deepi Sidhu. Whoever lines up under center week one, Collins gives the offense size and a deep threat.
The Texans production at tight end varied in 2020, with Darren Fells, Jordan Akins and Pharaoh Brown combining for 72 receptions and seven touchdowns. Caserio added another weapon to the offense by selecting Miami’s Brevin Jordan. Jordan had a decorated college career, finishing as a semifinalist (2020) and finalist (2018) for the John Mackey award, which honors the nation’s best tight end. As a junior in 2020, Jordan started eight games, amassing 38 catches for 576 yards, which were both second on the Hurricanes. Jordan’s seven touchdowns were tied for the team-lead. In three years as a Hurricane, Jordan made 105 receptions for 1,358 yards and found the endzone 13 times.
Jordan was also a winner in high school. According to NFL.com’s Chad Reuter, Jordan scored 13 touchdowns as a senior at Bishop Gorman High School, helping win their ninth-straight state championship.
In the fifth round, Caserio began to address rebuilding a defense that was 30th in yards allowed per game and last against the run. To make the move, Houston first sent picks 203 and 212 to the Buffalo Bills for the 174th pick. Then, they sent the 174th and 233rd picks to the Los Angeles Rams to move up and pick Wallow. It’s the second straight year the Texans have selected a TCU defender, following the selection of Ross Blacklock in the second round last year.
Listed at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Wallow led the Horned Frogs with 90 tackles in 2020, the second-straight year he has done so. He was also second in the Big 12 in tackles. A team captain, Wallow was named to the All-Big 12 First Team for the second time in his career in 2020. He had his most prolific season as a junior in 2019, when he finished with a Big 12-leading 125 tackles. His 18 tackles for a loss were best on the team. With nine linebackers already on the roster, it’s unclear how much Wallow will see the field right away. He will be able to add competition to the position and be a player the coaching staff can develop.
Wallow said to Houston media that he is thankful to get to stay in Texas and play.
“It is a beautiful opportunity just to be so close to home and just, you know, playing in Texas as well, it is a beautiful thing,” Wallow said. “It’s just crazy. As you can tell I’m still lost for words, but, you know, I’m just excited to get down there and get started and get things rolling.”
With their final selection, the team looked to add depth to a defensive line that finished 18th in sacks last season. Lopez is a graduate transfer who spent the first four years of his career at New Mexico State, before transferring to Arizona. In his lone season with the Wildcats, Lopez was an All-Pac 12 honorable mention, finishing with 18 total tackles in a five-game shortened season. His four tackles for a loss and one sack led the team. Lopez is also a former wrestler who won two state titles at Mesquite High School in Tempe, Arizona according to Texans TV host Drew Dougherty.