Texans new CB Kamari Lassiter ready to live up to ‘Locksmith’ persona

Sporting a silver chain with an industrial-sized lock engraved with ‘K3‘ in the center, Kamari Lassiter made sure to properly introduce his alter ego to his new fan base. 

“I call myself the locksmith,” the newest Houston Texans cornerback said. “I pride myself on having stuff on lock. I really wanted to get a lock [made] with the name ‘locksmith‘ on there.” 

Lassiter, a consistent playmaker and lockdown defensive back at Georgia, will be expected to live up to his name down at NRG Stadium this fall. Fans in Athens were able to see him bloom from a four-star defender into a two-time national champion. 

The 6-foot Alabama native did it all during his three seasons with the Bulldogs. He started his career in the nickel, then moved to the outside in 2022 and became the alpha of Kirby Smart’s secondary. 

“Kamari provides toughness,” Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said Saturday following the draft. “You talk about energy and the way he plays the game. He loves football. It shows on the tape. It jumps off the tape. He’s a versatile player. He can play inside, he can play outside.”

Lassiter saved his best collegiate season for 2023, totaling 37 tackles and a team-leading eight pass breakups. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed 15 receptions on 37 pass attempts for 135 yards.

While earning second-team All-SEC honors, Lassiter didn’t allow a touchdown. In three seasons with the Dawgs and over 1,110 snaps in coverage, two players have crossed the pylon. 

“You just talk about a guy who is a leader, a guy who works hard. He’s everything that our team is about,” Ryans said. “You talk about everything being relentless and attacking. With the relentless mindset every single day, that’s what Kamari brings.”

From an on-field standpoint, Lassiter was considered one of the top corners. He impressed during pre-draft meetings with teams, but a 4.6 40-time knocked him out of the first-round conversation. 

While the Locksmith has been known for ending plays with breakups, he hasn’t been able to turn the key in turnovers. Lassiter finished his collegiate career with one interception compared to 14 pass deflections. 

General manager Nick Caserio wasn’t concerned. The film shows Lassiter’s natural ability to guard shifty receivers in the slot or on the perimeter, areas he’ll both work at during training camp. 

We’re drafting football players; we’re not drafting track teams,” said Caserio Friday evening. “I know speed is important. I’m not saying speed is not important. We don’t feel that that’s an issue for this particular player. When you watch him play in the SEC, you don’t walk away and have that concern.” 

Lassiter was on Houston’s radar from the beginning of the draft process. Caserio said he was one of the top prospects they identified who fits Ryans’ “SWARM” mentality. 

With the Texans, Lassiter should be a Day 1 starter, whether it be at the nickel position or opposite former first-round pick Derek Stingley Jr. Houston elected not to retain veteran Steven Nelson this offseason, pivoting toward younger options in Jeff Okudah and C.J. Henderson on one-year deals. 

Okudah, the 2020 No. 3 pick, has been hit-or-miss throughout his career and is on his third time in five years. He saw progress early last season after being traded to the Atlanta Falcons from Detroit but was benched toward the year’s end in a playoff hunt. 

Henderson, a fellow 2020 first-round pick, mostly was a reserve during his final two seasons in Carolina after being traded by Jacksonville following his rookie season. 

The Texans also re-signed Desmond King on a one-year deal and replaced Tavierre Thomas with Myles Bryant. Lassiter will have to earn playing time, but he’s excited to learn under Stingley, someone he remembers watching at LSU while at American Christian Academy in Tuscaloosa. 

“When you talk about just pure raw talent and true corner who can just go out there and just play anywhere on the field and go with the best of them, I feel like Derek Stingley is one of those guys,” Lassiter said of Stingley. Being able to learn up under a guy like that who’s been in the league for a couple of years now and earned respect, that’s someone who I can take parts of his game and add on to mine.”

While the Texans were sold on Lassiter, the latter was sold on Houston. Not just the coaching staff, but also the vibes. He told his family and friends that the roster was young and it felt like a place he’d thrive. 

Throughout the draft process, countless mocks featured Lassiter as the 42nd pick for Houston given his play style and demeanor. Scouts considered him an ideal fit for Ryans’ man-heavy defense after mixed play in coverage during the team’s run to the postseason. 

Back home in Alabama, Lassiter was envisioning the same.

“You watch football and you think you’d fit in and enjoy playing at,” Lassiter said. “I feel like Houston is one of those places.” 

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire