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Texans raise eyebrows with their first pick in NFL draft

When Nick Caserio became general manager of the Texans in January, he was tasked with building a team around quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Instead, Caserio’s first draft pick at the helm on Friday was for a potential replacement for the beleaguered superstar.

The selection of Stanford quarterback Davis Mills was a clear indication the organization has concerns about Watson’s future in Houston.

Mills is an intriguing prospect with high-upside arm talent who started just 11 games in his college career. He will bring plenty of potential to Houston, but Caserio couldn’t have imagined needing to draft a quarterback when he agreed to take over a team that had already put itself behind the 8-ball by trading away both its first- and second-round picks this year.

There were already rumblings Watson wanted to be traded, but Caserio seemed intent on hanging on to him unless the Texans were absolutely blown away by an offer. Then came a series of civil lawsuits stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct from more than 20 women that decimated Watson’s trade value and left doubts about his future.

So instead of trying to fill any number of glaring holes on the roster or taking advantage of the extra picks he could have acquired by trading Watson, Caserio bought himself an insurance policy by drafting Mills.

Despite his short time in the role, Caserio danced around questions of how the pick impacts Watson’s future in Houston during a late-night video conference.

“It’s just part of the team-building process,” he said. “What we tried to do was evaluate the players on the board and go through our process. There were several players we were discussing in that range. When it came time to pick, we felt it was the best decision for our team at the time. It doesn’t impact any one player individually.

“’You try to make thoughtful decisions. It’s not one factor. It’s not one person. There’s a myriad of things that go into it.”

Mills was part of a run on quarterbacks midway through Day Two of the draft.

Florida’s Kyle Trask went to the Buccaneers as the heir-apparent to Tom Brady with the final pick of the second round, then the Vikings took Kellen Mond from Texas A&M with the second pick of the third round.

Mills went immediately after Mond, the eighth quarterback selected among the first 67 picks of the draft. That’s the most ever selected through the first three rounds of an NFL draft.

While the quarterbacks are always met with great fanfare, it was a more under-the-radar selection that provided a very big moment for a small school football power.

Offensive tackle Dillon Radunz was picked No. 53 by the Tennessee Titans in the second round, joining teammate Trey Lance in the NFL after the quarterback was drafted by the 49ers on Thursday.

It marks the first time an FCS school had two players drafted in the first two rounds since Jackson State in 2000. Only two FCS players had been picked in the first round at all since 2008.

At the point in the draft Radunz was selected on Friday, the two Bisons selected represented the total number of players picked from Texas and Michigan combined. Neither Auburn nor Oklahoma had heard their schools mentioned on the podium at all.

“Ultimately, I’m just a kid playing a game and enjoying it,” Radunz said of coming from a lower division. “There’s a lot of big dudes now, but I just love to play the game and I’m going to have fun doing it.”

Their former teammate Jabril Cox, who played 2020 as a graduate transfer at LSU, was also expected to hear his name called on Friday. The linebacker has not yet been picked and is one of the consensus best players available heading into the final four rounds.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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