Solomon Byrd listed as Texans’ sleeper pick by Touchdown Wire

Who is the sleeper pick of the 2024 NFL draft? For the Houston Texans, it’s likely edge rusher and seventh-round pick Solomon Byrd out of USC. 

At least that’s what Touchdown Wire thinks. 

USA Today’s Doug Farrar recently listed every team’s top “sleeper” selection heading into the regular season. For Houston, Farrar believes Byrd’s ability to win both off the edge and while inside gives him the advantage to force his way up the depth chart and onto the field. 

This offseason, the Texans got that much closer to a Super Bowl defense by adding Danielle Hunter to their edge-rush profile with a two-year, $49 million contract with $48 million guaranteed. Hunter is a perfect complement to Will Anderson, the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, as Hunter’s game is about speed and bend, while Anderson is all about power to the pocket. 

To double down on that speed/bend thing, Houston also selected USC end Solomon Byrd with the 238th pick in the seventh round. That pick could pay off far past its value. Last season for the Trojans, the Wyoming transfer totaled seven sacks and 41 total pressures on 320 pass-rushing reps. There’s not much to say about Byrd as a run defender, but then again, the Texans probably won’t line him up inside 20% of the time in 3-man fronts as the Trojans did for whatever reason.

With Byrd, you put him on the outside in a rotation and let him hunt… or you let him use his formidable gap quickness on stunts and games. No reason to overthink it.

Byrd is coming off a career season with the Trojans as a pass-rusher and was one of two bright spots in an underwhelming season. In Houstonhe’ll serve as a rotational player with upside on passing down behind Hunter and Anderson. 

Houston needs a long-term No. 3 edge rusher. Derek Barnett re-signed a one-year deal after being claimed off waivers following his release from Philadelphia, but he could be looking to cash in after a promising campaign. Dylan HortonHouston’s fourth-round pick of TCU last year, is currently in remission and undergoing treatment for stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Byrd could fill that void in time. He’s a veteran player with six years of experience between Wyoming and USC. Texans general manager Nick Caserio also praised the 23-year-old’s maturation and attention to detail during his collegiate career. 

“He plays hard, relentless. He’s a tough player, and he has the skill to get after the quarterback,” Caserio said last week following the draft. “We’re excited about him.”

Byrd heads to Houston next week as the Texans return to practice for the start of rookie minicamp on Thursday. 

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire