The Houston Texans experienced a fantastic 2023 NFL Draft by landing both quarterback C.J. Stroud and EDGE Will Anderson Jr. in the top three. General manager Nick Caserio continued to add to an impressive rookie class by agreeing to terms with nine undrafted free agents at the conclusion of the draft. The standout signing was former LSU EDGE Ali Gaye, who possesses an opportunity to make Houston’s final 53-man roster.
Gaye enjoyed quite the long-winded journey to the draft. He moved to the United States from Gambia (Africa’s smallest mainland country) at the age of 12. Gaye played college football at Arizona Western Junior College and Garden City Community College before capturing LSU’s attention. It was within the confines of the SEC that Gaye developed into a draftable talent.
Gaye proved he belonged alongside college football’s most talented athletes by posting 18.0 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks at LSU. The Texans are inheriting a towering 6-foot-6, 265-pound pass-rushing piece of moldable clay with nearly 34-inch arms. Gaye is an unfinished product that hasn’t reached his performance ceiling yet.
“I’m still working on improving my pass-rush arsenal,” Gaye told The Draft Network in April. “I’m not yet a finished product. I’m still learning. I’m still growing and getting better. My pass-rush arsenal can be deadly. I think it can be even deadlier as I continue honing in on my craft and mastering my skill set. My size, length, and speed are real assets. Once I put all of that together, it’s going to be a deadly combination at the next level.”
Caserio recognized Gaye’s upside by making an appropriate offer. Gaye joined the Texans on a three-year contract that includes $80,000 guaranteed with a $70,000 base salary guarantee and a $10,000 signing bonus, per Aaron Wilson. The financial commitment increases Gaye’s chances of making the roster.
A relatively raw talent given his late introduction to football, Gaye is in excellent hands. New Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans is the ideal candidate to oversee Gaye’s professional development. Ryans possesses a decorated defensive resume after helping an abundance of defensive line talent progress their skills in a previous stint as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator.
The Texans’ depth chart at the pass-rushing positions are a jumbled mess heading into training camp. Anderson Jr. is penciled into a starting role. Fellow draft pick Dylan Horton is essentially guaranteed a roster spot. The Texans are trying to get younger and cheaper, but the 35-year-old Jerry Hughes remains on the roster for now.
Jonathan Greenard is a candidate to experience a bounce-back campaign after suffering an injury a year ago. The remaining group leaves plenty to be desired. Gaye will contend for a final roster spot alongside the likes of Chase Winovich and Derek Rivers. There’s no reason why Gaye can’t outperform the competition.
Gaye is a raw prospect that faces a steep learning curve—it’s likely why he went undrafted. Thankfully for Gaye’s future outlook, he landed in the ideal spot under the tutelage of Ryans. Gaye is naturally talented enough to develop into a productive member of Houston’s 53-man roster.