NFL Draft is Finished...What's Next?
Now we enter the quiet time of the NFL calendar
All the dust has settled from the remains of the 2022 NFL Draft weekend. Now we enter the quiet period of the NFL calendar.
In this week’s newsletter we will wrap up the draft details for the Houston Texans, rookie contracts, roster updates for the Houston Texans.
Houston Texans Draft Class
General Manager Nick Caserio blew my draft trade prediction out of the water. I had set the over/under at 2.5 trades and Caserio finished draft week with five trades, four of which occurred during the draft. Four of the trades were to move up in the draft, and one trade was a crucial move back to set-up the aforementioned trade up moves.
Caserio and company finished the draft with nine selections with five of those selections occurring in the top 75 draft slots. The first five players selected have a real shot at becoming week 1 starters. That should not be the expectation but in today’s world, that is a clear fan expectation. Especially for players drafted in the first two rounds.
The overall vibe from the fan base is positive regarding the draft class. The 2022 draft was the next step for the organization and fan base on a future without Deshaun Watson.
Derek Stingley - Defensive Back
No complaints on this draft selection from my perspective. There was a clear divide in the fan base between Stingley and Gardner. I feel that Stingley will offer a higher performance ceiling provided he remains healthy and regains his 2019 freshman year form. Yes fans will reference the drop in performance in 2020 and 2021, but I would not be surprised if those were cruise control years for Stingley after the stellar 2019 campaign. Injuries were definitely a factor in 2021 and cannot be overlooked. Stingley has the opportunity to become the cornerstone of the Houston defense going forward.
Contract: 4 years - $34,657,513 fully guaranteed with a $22,385,464 signing bonus.
Kenyon Green - Offensive Lineman
Prior to this draft selection Houston traded back from slot 1.13 with Philadelphia. The trade occurred with both Kyle Hamilton and Jordan Davis on the board. Caserio received a strong package from Howie Roseman (GM in Philly) to jump up two spots to get in front of the Ravens. We may never know how Houston’s board ranked Green versus Hamilton and Davis. Green should slot in at left guard fulfilling an immediate need on the offensive line. Green has experience at multiple spots along the offensive line from his team with the Aggies. Green is noted to be an excellent run blocker with strong hands, good knee bend, and movement at the second level. Pass blocking may need some coaching.
Contract: 4 years - $15,953,405 fully guaranteed with a $8,782,476 signing bonus.
Jalen Pitre - Defensive Back
Pitre has a quick player comp to Tyrann Mathieu in my view. Pitre was the highest graded run defender in FBS per PFF grading. Pitre worked primarily out of the slot in 2021, with previous experience in the “star” role when Dave Aranda was Baylor’s DC. With Tavierre Thomas returning as the slot cornerback, expect Pitre to work in the safety role. Working as more of a hybrid strong safety, dime safety, and sliding down towards the box in nickel packages. Do not expect Pitre in the deep safety spot
Contract: 4 years - $8,954,435 ($7,028,376 fully guaranteed) with a $3,692,316 signing bonus.
John Metchie - Wide Receiver
Personally this was my favorite draft selection of day two for Houston. Caserio dealt picks 68, 108, 124 to make a big move up to slot 44 to draft Metchie. The wide receiver market has gone HAM the past month with wild trades and market resetting contracts. Even to a point where Marquis Brown is traded for 1.23 to Arizona. Metchie is a technician on the field who understands route options, coverage manipulations, and advanced releases from the line. Metchie should start out in the slot as WR3 behind Cooks and Collins. The biggest hurdle for Metchie will be his recovery from the December ACL injury. Latest reports indicate Metchie is already running, and on pace for full release by late July. Expect Houston to ease him back into football shape once he returns to the field. Avoiding opening the season on NFI/Reserve is the goal here.
Contract: 4 years - $3,049,220 (% guaranteed to be determined) with a $3,049,220 signing bonus.
Christian Harris - Linebacker
The Harris selection I am a bit skeptical on. Harris started as a true freshman at Alabama, and continued as a starter through 40 of 41 games in his three year career. My concern is the decline in performance year over year, and was not overly spectacular his freshman year. Harris can play all three LB positions, and has good ground speed coverage. He has a tendency to get lost in diagnosing a play timely. Luckily Harris is in a position to work behind Grugier-Hill, Kirksey, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, and Kevin Pierre-Louis as he continues developing. Harris has the tools and traits to develop into a three down linebacker. He needs to continue his development on mental processing at NFL game speed.
Contract: 4 years - $5,348,255 (% guaranteed to be determined) with a $1,069,640 signing bonus.
Dameon Pierce - Running Back
It happened! A drafted runningback! Fans have been chomping at the bit for some young legs in the back field. There is probably no more of an aggressive runner than Pierce, he just wants to hit people and run them over. Pierce does lack top end speed and home run type plays. A willing blocker could propel himself up the depth chart with improved work on third downs. Pierce’s under utilized work load at Florida could prove to be beneficial for Houston from a health stand point.
Contract: 4 years - $4,475,432 ($815,432 guaranteed) with a $815,432 signing bonus.
Thomas Booker - Defensive Lineman
Booker tested off the charts (9.88 RAS) displaying fantastic athletic traits. Booker was also an academic Heisman finalist at Stanford. Booker has worked all over the defensive line from the 0 technique to the edge at the 5 technique. Booker does need to work on his hand usage which lead to the inability to break away from blocks. Booker likely will start the season behind Maliek Collins and Roy Lopez as a rotational player at defensive tackle. Booker’s projection to the NFL is most interesting among many Texans’ fans, especially with the success of Roy Lopez.
Contract: 4 years - $3,996,408 ($336,408 guaranteed) with a $336,408 signing bonus.
Teagan Quitoriano - Tight End
Quitoriano was probably Caserio’s biggest reach in the draft. One could argue that in the 6th and 7th round is where you take a wild shot. At 6’5 with lower than average testing traits, this selection will the team’s biggest developmental project. Many graded Quitoriano as a 7th round selection or undrafted free agent. Quitoriano worked primarily as the inline (Y) tight end at Oregon State. With his excellent basketball background, Quitoriano would work his way onto the field as a red zone/short field passing target.
Contract: 4 years - $3,956,148 ($296,148 guaranteed) with a $296,148 signing bonus.
Austin Deculus - Offensive Tackle
Deculus is another local player coming just up the road from Cypress, TX before attending LSU. Deculus started 47 games in 5 years (red shirt senior) at LSU primarily at right tackle. Deculus 61 games played gives him ton of experience but he lacks knee bend (as Seth Payne would say) and good balance. Deculus will work to challenge Charlie Heck and Cedric Ogbuehi for the OT3/4 spot. Could potential find his way to the practice squad.
Contract: 4 years - $3,822,756 ($162,756 guaranteed) with a $162,756 signing bonus.
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Speaking of rookie contracts, the rookie pool experienced yet another very minor growth. Despite the NFL salary cap rising by 14%, the rookie pool grew by just 1% over 2021. The league and player’s association agreed to borrow from future pools to cover the 2021 short fall on the salary cap.
Calculating rookie contracts is straight forward. Once the signing bonus slot amount has been assigned, we can derive the rest of the contract.
The CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) has a clause for restricting rookie contracts to 25% growth after year 1. With that information coupled with the $705,000 rookie minimum salary for 2022 we can calculate the rest of the contract. Using Derek Stingley’s contract as an example:
Signing bonus: $22,385,464 divided by 4 = $5,596,366 yearly pro-ratio
$705,000 + $5,596,366 = $6,301,366 year 1 cap number
$6,301,366 * 25% = $1,575,342 (this is the yearly increase allowed)
$6,301,366 + $1,575,342 = $7,876,708 (this is the year 2 cap number)
$7,876,708 - $5,596,366 = $2,280,342 (this is the base salary for year 2)
Keep working through all 4 years and you have the rookie contract amounts for a single contract. I am sorry but yes sometimes we have to math around here.
There are some nuances to the rookie contracts as you work through the draft. The above calculations show the maximum value for the 1.03 draft slot. Not all draft picks receive 100% of their slot value. Generally once the draft slots fall into the fourth round and beyond, the player receives the signing bonus and minimum salaries for all four years of the contract. This would slot the value under 100%.
The NFLPA has made a big push among the player agents for specific goals to achieve during this rookie contract evolution:
All 32 first round draft selections receive 100% fully guaranteed contracts.
All third round draft selections receive 100% maximum compensation for specific draft slot value.
Goal #1 has been achieved with the signing of pick 1.32 Lewis Cine with Minnesota, which reportedly is 100% guaranteed. Goal #2 will be difficult but I feel there is a very good chance this also achieved.
Recent Houston Texans Transactions
Caserio wasted no time with continued roster churn post draft signing three edge rushers off the free agent market:
Rasheem Green - 1 year $3.25 million with $500,000 guaranteed
Mario Addison - 2 years $7.7 million with $2 million guaranteed (working to verify)
Jerry Hughes - 2 years $10 million with $4.5 million guaranteed (working to verify)
With the drafting of Kenyon Green in the first round, Houston activated the fifth year option for Tytus Howard. The option amount is worth $13.2 million for 2023 and is fully guaranteed upon activation. This all but locks Howard in for the next two seasons, hopefully all at offensive tackle. If Howard can continue the work from the end of 2021 over to 2022, Houston may be looking at an extension candidate next offseason.
Expect Houston to announce the signing of eleven (11) undrafted rookie free agents in the very near future with the Rookie Mini Camp kicking off May 13. The team will also invite undrafted rookies on a try-out basis. The three day camp is a huge opportunity for undrafted players to have a shot at making the training camp roster.
Post Draft Depth Chart
Currently the roster sits at 89 active players with Scottie Phillips on the injured reserve list heading towards an injury settlement.
Cap & Trade Twitter Spaces
We will take a short break from the Twitter Spaces show & podcast to rest up and setup some new guests as we work towards training camp. Exact return date is unknown, but won’t be too long. Post draft up to training camp is the unofficial dead season for the NFL.
The newsletter will continue on weekly in the meantime. Next installment we will review the trades made during the draft and how those can be measured/evaluated.
Hope you all enjoy your week and can get excited about the schedule release tonight.
Until next time,