With more ammo in 2022, particularly higher picks that actually appear in the first and second round, I would understand being optimistic about Caserio drafting better athletes and players (but I also believe you can find athletic players throughout all rounds, evidenced by Wallow).
Drafting better athletes with the Texans than he historically has with the Patriots is a good start for believing that Caserio has evolved his draft strategy. The other and more important lens I want to look through is the reliance on mental intelligence.
Researching the background on the five Texans' draft picks in 2021 doesn't result in a clear trend of Caserio only going after 'geniuses' or 'good boys'. Two of the five have some noteworthy accolades - Davis Mills attended Stanford and was a team captain, while Garrett Wallow was a team captain and earned All-Academic Big 12 in 2020. The last three picks - Collins, Jordan and Lopez - are not similarly accredited with tangible off-field accomplishments, but I've never talked to them and am not trying to say they are dumb or have character concerns.
I do think we can take this a positive sign that not all Caserio's draft picks for the Texans seem to fall in line with his past preference for mental traits over physical ones, but five picks is a small sample size. This class should be used as a reference point going forward for 2022 and hopefully a similar pattern continues.
With that glimmer of hope thrown your direction, let's go back to the other nine traits Caserio values which he mentioned to Dougherty:
- "I would say their mindset."
- "Do they put the team first?"
- "Are they willing to be coached?"
- "Are they willing to improve?"
- "Can they make corrections?
- "Can they make adjustments?
- "Can they handle a large volume of information?"
- "Can they transition from one opponent to the next opponent and can they reduplicate that on a week-to-week basis?"
- "Being able to perform consistently over the course of a long period of time and sustain that level of performance."
That is, word for word, what the transcribed interview appeared as on the official Houston Texans website and it is eerily similar to Caserio's 2015 quote provided earlier in this very article. Caserio is no longer reporting to Belichick, he doesn't have to abide by some Patriots code and provide the equivalent of 'coaches speak'. He has no incentive to provide Dougherty with false information.
There's a chicken or the egg issue here between Caserio and the Patriots and I don't quite care who started their love for tough, smart and dependable players but that this stupid mantra exists in the first place. Most importantly for the Texans, when asked any type of question, Caserio reverts back to the Patriots principles that he's echoed time and time again in Foxborough. Putting the team first, being coachable, handling large volume of information - sound familiar to anyone?