In a surprise twist, Nick Caserio decided to move up in the 2021 NFL Draft, rather than trade down and gain more spins at the wheel, and add additional young bodies to an ancient and decrepit and despairing roster. The Texans decided to start the rebuild by selecting quarterback Davis Mills, and trading up to select wide receiver Nico Collins. Yep, we are in a world where Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins turned into Mills and Collins.
The Texans had to jump back into the third round to get Collins. In order to do so, the Texans gave up an enormous amount. Caserio exchanged selections 109 and 158 and a 2022 fourth round selection for the 89th overall selection. Rarely, if ever, does it take two fourth round picks to move up into the third round, and the Panthers held Houston to it to soak the most out of their third round selection.
ESPN analyzed the best trades in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Panthers added the fourth most total value in their trade, and Houston was on the opposite end of it. This was their analysis:
This ranks fourth in value gained, but there’s an argument that this was the best negotiated trade of the entire draft because Panthers GM Scott Fitterer swindled Texans GM Nick Caserio here. The Panthers doubled the value of their No. 89 pick, which was both an incredible deal in a vacuum and when compared with the other trades made around it.
The difference between expectation for the 89th pick and the 109th pick is not that large, yet Caserio dealt two fourth-rounders to bridge that gap and select Michigan wide receiver Nico Collins. That is not a price worth paying, especially not for a team with a roster in as much trouble as Houston’s is.
Houston surrendered more value in this deal than was lost in the seven trades before this deal and every trade after.
At the end of the day, if Collins becomes a wide receiver two the trade was worth it. If he becomes an occasional vertical threat he won’t. All trades and decisions get decided by the end results. In this case though, the process was flawed. The Texans are banking on their scouting acumen on this one.