New Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud asked his team to draft wide receiver Tank Dell, according to multiple reports. Texans general manager Nick Caserio responded by drafting Dell with the No. 69 overall selection in the third round. Stroud’s request was honored not because he’s controlling personnel decisions, but because Dell is a fantastic prospect that was already on Caserio’s radar.
Dell projects as an immediate contributor in Houston’s new-look offense. First-year head coach DeMeco Ryans is a defensive-minded leader that hired a quality offensive coordinator in Bobby Slowik. Slowik worked with Ryans in San Francisco, where he helped Kyle Shanahan craft one of the league’s most explosive and efficient offenses. Dell will command a big role in Slowik’s offense.
Dell is an athletic and quick-twitched receiver that utilizes rapid foot-fire to defeat cornerbacks. Dell’s dynamic quickness makes him an elusive assignment in coverage. Dell is a precise route-runner that consistently has an advantage over cornerbacks who attempt to mirror and match his movements.
Caserio and his scouting team had a front-row seat to Dell’s greatness at Houston. Dell strung together back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons as a Cougar. In 2022, Dell recorded career-highs in receptions (109, surpassing triple digits for the first time), receiving yards (1,398), and touchdowns (17).
Dell was also outstanding at this year’s Senior Bowl. Dell routinely won his one-on-one reps against cornerbacks that were simply outmatched. Dell’s performances in Mobile impressed Caserio and his trusted confidants.
The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Dell should immediately serve as Houston’s starting slot receiver. That title belonged to veteran journeyman Chris Moore last season, who led the team in snaps at the slot with 425, per Pro Football Focus. Moore signed with their division rival Titans in the offseason.
Moore wasn’t the only offseason departure. Dell joined a new-look receiver room in Houston. Long-term No. 1 receiver Brandin Cooks was traded to the Dallas Cowboys earlier this offseason as the Texans searched to get younger and cheaper at the position. Dell should form an ascending trio alongside the likes of Nico Collins and John Metchie III, the latter of which is essentially a rookie himself after battling (and overcoming) Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) throughout his rookie campaign.
Veteran presence is provided by Robert Woods, who signed a two-year contract following his release from the Titans. Woods is past his prime, but his steadying hand should help young talents like Dell and Metchie acclimate. Woods is familiar with Slowik’s offense after executing a similar variation of the scheme in Tennessee and Los Angeles.
None of these receivers are guaranteed to serve as Stroud’s go-to receiver. Dell has a legitimate opportunity to lead all Texans receivers in targets in 2023. That honor will be bestowed upon whoever separates themselves throughout training camp and the preseason. Dell’s chance is as good as anybody’s.
Caserio was wise to draft a rookie receiver to pair with his first-year quarterback. Stroud and Dell are walking into an identical environment with like-minded approaches. Stroud and Dell will grow together throughout the course of their careers. As their bond gets stronger, chemistry will continue to blossom.
It’s officially a new era in Houston. The likes of Ryans, Stroud, and Dell provide hope for a fan base that’s had little to cheer for. Dell will be critical to Houston’s makeover. Dell will be involved from the get-go.
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