HOUSTON — In terms of what Nick Caserio and the Houston Texans are looking for in the NFL Draft, “good players” is at the top of the list. Everything else that about a prospect comes second to none as of this time.
Caserio isn’t closing the door on anything in terms of when the Texans are on the clock. Should an offer be rich enough to move back, he’ll take it. If a player they like is in range for a trade up, he’ll make the move.
Limitations and versatility aren’t a deciding factor for Caserio in terms of who he selects. Some teams love to have players with upside at multiple positions, meaning their hit rate is higher than others. That isn’t something Caserio is too concerned about.
“You have to go back and maybe get a better understanding of what that player was asked to do within their certain system because it might be something different in our system,” Caserio said Thursday at his pre-draft press conference. “Just because a player has played corner and maybe slot corner does that mean he can do both for us?”
Several prospects the Texans have been linked to having the versatile tools at the college ranks to play a multitude of positions at the next level.
Take North Carolina State offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu for example: an All-American tackle who shined also when moved inside the guard.
Should the Texans consider using the No. 3 pick on the Wolfpack alum, expectations are that he would compete for starting reps at both guard and tackle. The same could be said of Alabama’s Evan Nealwho played both tackle spots and right guard in his three years with the Crimson Tide.
On paper, that seems to be an “ideal” scenario for a team looking to enter its next stage of the “process” as Caserio likes to put it. Only when the prospects begin to take reps can the team have a better understanding if the versatility aspect actually comes to fruition.
“Some players can go from the perimeter to inside on the offensive line, some people can’t,” Caserio said. “Some of that is a feeling, and a lot of that is how much can a player handle, how much can he absorb and can he actually perform the job that you’re asking him to do.”
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Caserio has spoken of the Texans being “flexible” in terms of draft selections. Flexibility is needed in today’s game, but it’s not an ultimatum on how Houston makes its picks when on the clock. Even if a player is limited to one position, they should provide value, they will be the target.
Houston is looking for stability and a foundation after going 4-13 in the first year of a new regime. The Texans certainly could use flexibility, primarily on the offensive line and secondary, but a player’s past role won’t dictate their status in the eyes of the front office.
In terms of versatility, Caserio said it isn’t as simple as just seeing a rep or two on film. and calling someone a more well-rounded prospect.
Teams often will dig deep on information during interviews at the NFL Combine or during in-person pre-draft visits of why perhaps they were asked to play a multitude of roles.
Was it because of an injury? Poor play from a starter? Upside and youth against a quicker team? All questions and more are asked during the interview process to get a better feel of the prospect and their situation.
Caserio said it all apart from the evaluation process. Film is one half, but conducting interviews to find out more information is another.
What might work in a college formation might not translate over to what the Texans are looking to do in terms of their respective system.
All of that factors into if a player is in range for the Texans. That, plus timing and the value of a certain position.
“You don’t want to get too caught up in it to where you automatically say ‘OK, he did this in this system, let’s drop him into our system and think he can do the same thing,'” Caserio said. “It doesn’t always necessarily work that way.”