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McClain: Caserio acquires talent, fills needs in my nine-pick Texans' mock draft


John McClain, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, is in his 48th year of covering the NFL in Houston, including 45 seasons at the Houston Chronicle.

If there's anything we know for certain about the Texans' draft it's that Executive Vice President and General Manager Nick Caserio will make trades. When it comes to drafting, Caserio is a wheeler dealer who's in his element and not bashful about moving up, down or into the future. Caserio's willingness to make moves always creates intrigue around draft time for Texans fans.

The three-day draft begins Thursday, April 25. Unless Caserio trades back into the first round, the Texans won't make their first selection until Friday. Beginning with the second round, the Texans have the 42nd and 59th overall picks.

As it stands today, Caserio has nine draft choices overall and more needs on defense than offense after a busy and exciting offseason for the defending AFC South champions. Caserio always tries to provide Head Coach DeMeco Ryans with the players he wants in his offensive and defensive systems. Together, the two men also keep a close eye on special teams and how new players can contribute in that area.

Since he became the Texans' general manager in 2021, Caserio has made 23 picks. He's selected the most players from the SEC (eight) in general and Alabama (four) in particular. He tends to take players from the Power Five conferences.

In my nine-round mock draft, eight of the Texans' nine picks come from Power Five conferences. Now, let's check out what Caserio and Ryans might do on Friday and Saturday:

Round 2 (42) – Braden Fiske, DT, 6-4, 292, Florida State

This combine sensation should begin as part of the rotation before earning a starting role to replace Sheldon Rankins, who signed with Cincinnati earlier in the offseason.

Round 2 (59) – T.J. Tampa, CB, 6-1, 189, Iowa State

A talented corner who'll compete with veterans Jeff Okuda and C.J. Henderson for playing time opposite Derek Stingley Jr.

Round 3 (86) – Calen Bullock, S, 6-2, 188, USC

After the Texans finished last season with three of the top four veteran safeties signed on the fly, he'll provided talent and depth and play special teams.

Round 4 (123) – Christian Jones, OT, 6-5, 305, Texas

A natural right tackle, he'll compete with veteran Charlie Heck to become the swing tackle behind Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard.

Round 4 (127) – Jalyx Hunt, EDGE, 6-4, 252, Houston Christian

He's gone from being an unknown to a prospect who's gotten the attention of scouts because of his pass rush skills. He's raw but talented.

Round 6 (188) – Gottlieb Ayedze, G, 6-4, 308, Maryland

He's light on his feet, gets to the second level and has the potential that would help him play inside in Bobby Slowik's zone scheme.

Round 6 (189) – Jase McClellan, RB, 5-10, 221, Alabama

A smart runner who's a good receiver and might be ideally suited to play in the Texans' one-cut zone scheme.

Round 7 (238) – Jackson Sirmon, LB, 6-1, 231, California

A middle linebacker from a football family, he should excel on special teams if he makes the 53-man roster.

Round 7 (247) – Brevyn Spann-Ford, TE, 6-6, 260, Minnesota

A large target with impressive size and hands but needs to become more physical to provide the kind of blocking DeMeco Ryans demands.

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