Texans general manager Nick Caserio executed a pair of trades with the Las Vegas Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday morning before drafting Texas Christian University defensive end Dylan Horton in the fourth round Saturday.
The Texans acquired a 2024 third-round selection from the Eagles in exchange for the 105th overall pick this year. And the Texans traded their 104th overall pick in the fourth round and a sixth-round pick, 203rd overall, to the Raiders for the 109th pick in the fourth round and a fifth-round selection at 174 overall.
A former safety and outside linebacker, Horton had four sacks, a forced fumble and broke up a pass in a win over Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl. He played running back, safety and wide receiver growing up. Horton has drawn high marks as a fluid pass rusher with a repertoire of moves.
“I feel like the fact that I have the background makes me more versatile, working closer to the ball,” Horton said. “Each time I learned a position, I learned ways to apply it to the position I’m playing right now. I felt it really helped me get to where I am, understanding concepts and helping me to learn new things.
Horton (6-foot-4, 263 pounds) is a Frisco native who transferred from New Mexico to play for the Horned Frogs.
Horton was 257 pounds at the NFL scouting combine, 262 pounds at his Pro Day and has gained a pound since that workout. He expects to gain more weight with proper nutrition. He has put on weight sensibly, with complex carbohydrates,
“Good player, he’s kind of played a couple different defensive systems, probably best suited at defensive end,” Caserio said. “So, he’ll probably be a defensive end in our front. Good size, good length, productive season, had a pretty good Senior Bowl week. He’s kind of played a multiplicity of fronts, kind of end, some inside, really fits more on the edge of the defense. Fits the profile of what we’re trying to do here on the defensive end spot.”
Horton had 10 1/2 sacks last season and led the team with 15 tackles for loss and had 52 overall tackles.
“I’m aggressive, I’m a leader off the field and on the field,” Horton said. “I was a captain last year. That was a great honor. I take that close to my heart. Those were my teammates, my family. Really excited to be a part of this Texans defense.”
He led the team with nine tackles for losses and had four sacks in 2021.
Horton has run the 40-yard dash in 4.74 seconds with a 34-inch vertical leap, a 10-foot broad jump and bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times.
Horton was born in Houston.
He was an all-district football and basketball player at Frisco High School before signing with New Mexico where he was a reserve linebacker after bulking up 20 pounds. He was a starter for the Lobos before suffering an ankle injury and transferring to TCU, emerging as an honorable-mention All-Big 12 Conference selection.
“The Texans run an aggressive style of defense,” Horton said. “I can contribute in the best possible way.”
In the fifth round, the Texans traded with the Los Angeles Rams to draft Alabama linebacker Henry To’o’To’o.
Frankly, he was shocked to join the Texans rejoin former Crimson Tide teammates Will Anderson Jr. and Christian Harris. Yes, it was a pleasant surprise
“This is out of the blue,” To’o’To’o said. “It came out of nowhere. A big shocker to me.”
The 6-foot-2, 228-pound California native is a Tennessee transfer who was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection last season.
A former All-SEC freshman selection, he led the Volunteers with 76 tackles, 10 for losses as a sophomore before entering the NCAA transfer portal.
He has run the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds with a 32-inch vertical lap and a 9-8 broad jump.
He had 94 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks last season.
“I’m a smart, instinctive guy who loves football,” he said. “Smart, instinctive, fast.”
He had 111 tackles in 2021 with four sacks and one forced fumble.
One of eight siblings, To’oTo’o said he keeps his life simple and follows the traditions of his family and his Polynesian background.
Off the field, he likes to relax.
“I’m a chill, laid-back dude,” he said. “I don’t party. I watch Netflix.”
Two of his favorites: ‘All-American and Outer Banks.’
The Texans drafted Harris in the third round last season and he emerged as a starter as a rookie.
“You have to trust the process,” said To’oTo’o, echoing the phrasing of Alabama coach Nick Saban. “Nothing came easy to us at ‘Bama, and nothing will come easy for us with the Texans.”
In the sixth round, the Texans drafted Notre Dame offensive guard Jarrett Patterson.
Patterson (6-foot-5, 306 pounds) ran the 40-yard dash in 5.33 seconds and bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times.
A former top offensive tackle recruit from Mission Viejo, California where he was an all-state selection, he stared 13 games at center in 2019 and was a third-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection in 2021. He missed the first game of last season before starting the next 12 games at left guard.
“Patterson, a lot of experience, in Senior Bowl, played center, played guard, position versatility, good makeup,” Caserio said. “Gives us a little depth and maybe some versatility inside. He started at center, then he started at guard. He’s done both. Essentially it says he can play all three positions. How does he fare relative to someone else inside? When you’re taking seven to eight offensive linemen into the game, the ability to do multiple is going to enhance that player’s overall value.”
He’s a former third-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection who was sidelined for the Senior Bowl all-star game. He was a team captain.
“Being smart, sending the communication wherever it has to be and just being dependable on and off the field,” Patterson said. “Whatever the assignment is on the field, I’ll do it.”
Patterson has recovered from a hip injury.
“The biggest thing is getting me as healthy as possible,” Patterson said. “It’s always about being smart, tough and dependable.”
The Texans drafted Iowa State wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson, drafting him 205th overall after trading the 230th overall pick and a 2024 sixth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills, per a league source.
Hutchinson (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) was an All-American selection and a former Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year. He was a three-time All-Big 12 selection. A transfer from Blinn College, he caught 107 passes for 1,171 yards and six touchdowns last season.
‘My play, I feel like I’m a very versatile player,” Hutchinson said. “I can play the slot or outside. Whatever the Texans need me to do, I can do that. I have great YAC (yards after the catch) ability and can make contested catches.”
Hutchinson caught 83 passes for 987 yards and five touchdowns in 2021 and 64 catches for 771 yards and four scores in 2020.
The time at Blinn was a formative one for Hutchinson, a Florida native.
‘It feels full circle,” Hutchinson said. “The journey was great for me. It taught me a lot of lessons. It taught me how to remain humble. Not everything is always going to go your way. You just keep working hard.”
The Texans drafted Pitt safety Brandon Hill in the seventh round.
Hill (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) started every game at strong safety and had 67 tackles and one fumble recovery. He was an honorable-mention All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, scoring a touchdown in a win over Duke with a 30-yard scoop-and-score.
“Fast, tough, explosive, urgent,” Caserio said. “Got a good playing style, tough. Things that DeMeco wants to emphasize on defense, he sort of fits the profile. Probably a little better closer to the line of scrimmage. We’ll see where he fits in some other spots.”
He had 81 tackles, two interceptions, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble and was a second-team all-conference selection in 2021. He was a Jim Thorpe award semifinalist.
“I’m a physical, fast strong safety that’s ready to fly around and make plays,” Hill said. “I’m bringing speed. I’m bringing physicality, bringing a leader and a guy that’s going to compete every single play.
“I can bring it all on special teams. I can bring the speed and physicality to go down there and make a play. Definitely want to make an impact.”
The Texans drafted nine players, a class headlined by first-round quarterback C.J. Stroud, defensive end Will Anderson Jr. and wide receiver Tank Dell.
Caserio isn’t inclined toward the instant analysis of draft picks before they’ve even taken the field for a single snap.
“Incomplete, to be determined, that’s the reality of it,” Caserio said. “There will be 50,000 draft grades here, what we did, what we didn’t do. I mean, based on what? These players haven’t done anything. We just try to add players that we think can help our football team in some capacity.
"Now that they’re here, they’ll determine what their role is. We can’t really get too caught up in that. I’m certainly not. Honestly, I don’t really care what the grades say. It doesn’t really affect anything that we do.”
Are the Texans on the right track? It feels that way, but time will tell the true story. They’re certainly meeting the relevance standard this offseason.
“Yeah, I think the goal every year each step of the way is add players that we think have an opportunity to help us,” Caserio said. “Through that lens, hopefully we’ve done that. We’ll find out more when they actually are here and then when they actually get started in our program.”
Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.