5 storylines to watch at Texans rookie minicamp

Texans’ rookie minicamp kicks off this weekend in Houston.

There will be 15 rookies in attendance — nine draft picks and six undrafted free agents
. Each prospect has their own story and path ahead of them. It’s interesting to ponder how each career could play out. At this point, it’s all speculation but the first chapter of their NFL story is about to be written. 

Here are the top five storylines that you should keep a keen eye on during Texans rookie minicamp this weekend.

5 storylines to watch at Texans rookie minicamp

Kamari Lassiter’s usage

Lassiter has a versatile game
. The questions of whether he’ll be used inside or outside should start to see answers soon. The Texans could either have a specific position, like nickel cornerback, planned out for him and spend their time predominantly training him at one spot to not overload a rookie. 

The other thought is that they could give him reps at nickel, outside cornerback and the safety position. It’ll be interesting to see the path they chose for their first selection in this past draft. Over the long haul, Lassiter may be best suited for the safety position due to his lack of length and speed. However, the Texans have starters in Jimmie Ward and Jalen Pitre at the position. They should have an open competition at nickel and the outside cornerback position opposite of Derek Stingley Jr., though.

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Lassiter should be considered the favorite for the starting nickel role
. He has a legit shot at winning the outside corner position as well if the Texans are willing to use him mostly in zone and off-man coverage. He’d be a liability if they wanted to utilize their outside cornerbacks to play heavy press-man jam.

There’s a multitude of options for the Texans with Lassiter’s skill set; how they elect to utilize it and develop him as a prospect is not only a great story for his rookie season but throughout his career.

The plan for Calen Bullock

Houston seemed to target versatile defensive backs in two of their first three selections in the draft. Bullock has the versatility like Lassiter to play at safety, in the slot or outside at corner. Each of the young prospects has diverse skillsets and traits that add value to the Texans by giving them multiple ways to play the duo to their strengths while making the defense and the rookies collectively better.

Bullock is most likely to start at the free safety position. Ward would be ahead of him but he averages almost five missed games a season. There are two ways the Texans could go in their thought process with Bullock slated to come in behind a talented veteran: They could opt to take the time as a cushion to get Bullock NFL-ready for action at the free safety position so he flourishes when he’s called upon, or they could choose to look at him as clay to mold with prototypical NFL length, burst, speed and fluidity for the outside cornerback position.

Bullock could compete for a starting outside cornerback role as well with Lassiter, Jeff Okudah and C.J. Henderson. Bullock could surprise and win the outside cornerback position and start with Lassiter in the nickel, along with Ward, Pitre and Stingley Jr. The move would allow Okudah and Henderson to provide depth at the outside corner positions and Myles Bryant and Desmond King II to do so on the interior. 

Would head coach DeMeco Ryans trust two rookies to start in the secondary of his talented nickel base defense? If they proved to be two of the five most talented defensive backs in camp, then yes, Ryans could start them both. 

Which rookie linebacker will emerge?

There is limited depth behind the Texans’ talented starting linebackers of Christian Harris and Azeez Al-Shaair. Second-year player Henry To’oTo’o and Jacob Phillips, who has struggled to stay on the field, are the next men up, followed by a few special teams players and a few rookies.

The Texans will have a few rookie linebackers who could rise up the ranks in camp to not only make the roster but push for a backup spot with more upside than having a pure special teams role. The Texans drafted Jamal Hill in the sixth round at the position as well as undrafted free agents Max Tooley and Tarique Barnes.

Hill looks like he can make the team and flourish in a special teams role. Barnes has talent too, but it’s Tooley that could be the surprise of the bunch and possibly move into the two-deep at the position with To’oTo’o. Tooley could contribute at the position immediately if called upon as an older, experienced and mature player at the position. How it shakes out is worth monitoring throughout the season.

TE Cade Stover’s role

Stover has tremendous talent and upside
, and he landed in the perfect situation. Stover comes into a friendly locker room with his former college quarterback C.J. Stroud at the helm. The Texans also re-signed Dalton Schultz whom he can learn from.

Stover won’t have to be asked to be the man at the position for at least a couple of years as long as Schultz stays healthy and productive. That’s good. Stover is a dual-threat talent at the position that hasn’t reached his potential yet. 

The Texans could choose to bring him along slowly with the plan being to just make sure he understands the tight end position and is ready for heavy reps in 12-personnel this season with Schultz. They also could look to maximize his talent and versatility to be creative with the cut down to a 53-man roster. In doing so, they could train him to take fullback reps and also prepare him to be the guy at the position if the situation arose in which Schultz were to miss time. 

It’ll be interesting the pace the Texans bring Stover along at and if Stroud helps expedite the process with some whispers of encouragement in his head coaches’ ear.

Who is the rookie sleeper?

When looking for the sleeper of the rookie class there are several interesting candidates
. The rookie linebackers have already been mentioned and Tooley or one of the trio may take the crown. Outside of the linebackers, the defensive tackle position has two candidates in their seventh-round selection Marcus Harris and undrafted signing Pheldarius Payne. 

Stover and the Day 2 selections, particularly at defensive back, wouldn’t qualify as sleepers. Running back Jawhar Jordan gets heavy consideration for the title and makes it to the final four of the decision with Harris, Tooley and Payne.

Harris takes home the title of “sleeper” for the 2024 Draft class
, as he should provide a return that would have been more worthy of being selected at the start of Day 3 of the NFL draft as opposed to the end of it. Harris can explode off the snap, plays violently, is active and blends power and balance in his attack.


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