Rookie Recalls C.J. Stroud's Memorable College Showdown

Texans' Draft Strategy Focuses on Defensive Agility and Grit.

by Nouman Rasool
Rookie Recalls C.J. Stroud's Memorable College Showdown
© Rob Carr/Getty Images

Houston Texans' recent second-round draft pick Kamari Lassiter vividly recalls facing off against quarterback C.J. Stroud during their college days. The encounter took place in the thrilling 2022 Peach Bowl, where Lassiter's Georgia Bulldogs narrowly defeated Stroud's Ohio State Buckeyes 42-41.

Reflecting on that intense matchup, Lassiter, who was a sophomore at the time, had high praise for Stroud's formidable performance. "CJ Stroud gave us hell in the Peach Bowl," he commented earlier this week. "I don’t remember too many passes hitting the ground.

It was one of the few games that we didn't have a true answer for the quarterback." Stroud's impressive stats that day included completing 23 of 34 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns, challenging one of the nation's strongest defenses.

Stroud's performance was even more commendable considering the adversities he faced that season. The Buckeyes were plagued by key injuries, including those to star receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and running back TreVeyon Henderson.

In the pivotal game against Georgia, Stroud lost two of his top targets tight end Cade Stover and star receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., who was later picked fourth overall by the Arizona Cardinals. Despite these setbacks, Stroud's leadership was a significant factor, with Ohio State's Coach Ryan Day lauding his poise, especially in the game's critical moments.

Texans' Strategic Pick

Meanwhile, the Texans' choice of Lassiter as their first draft pick in 2024 surprised some fans, but it clearly aligns with the team's strategic needs. A two-time national champion at Georgia, Lassiter is known for his toughness and elite playmaking skills.

His aggressive style fits perfectly with the "SWARM" mentality promoted by Texans' head coach DeMeco Ryans. Lassiter's versatility is a key asset. Though primarily an outside cornerback in college, he and Texans' general manager Nick Caserio have highlighted his potential to excel as a nickel corner.

Despite not posting a top-tier 40-yard dash time, Lassiter's outstanding performance in agility drills like the 3-cone drill and shuttle suggest that he possesses the quickness essential for the nickel back role. In Houston's 4-2-5 defensive setup, which often employs nickel packages, Lassiter's skills seem tailor-made for Ryans’ scheme.

This strategic pick not only bolsters the Texans' defensive lineup but also marks a significant step in their team-building efforts as they gear up for the upcoming season.