Who are the Texans starting nickel defender options entering 2024?

It’s June, and full pads have yet to enter the mix, but former Georgia star Kamari Lassiter has been the Houston Texans’ mandatory minicamp star.

Many anticipated the second-round pick would play shift inside based on his 4.6 second 40-time at UGA’s Pro Day, but he’s been wowing media and coaches working on the outside. 

There’s still a possibility that Lassier slides into the nickel spot once training camp begins next month, but if he continues to impress, he’ll stay a fixture opposite of Derek Stingley Jr. Even after signing several free agents, Houston coach DeMeco Ryans is a practicer of the “right man for the job” method.

If Lassiter fits the mold outside, what are the Texans’ options in the slot?

Desmond King seems to be the most logical option entering camp. After being waived before the start of the season, he returned to Houston and started five games, including two in the postseason.

Among eligible nickel corners, King ranked 12th in passer rating when targeted at 89.8, according to Pro Football Focus. He also served as a necessary element in the Texans’ return game.


Just because King started doesn’t mean he was the elite. Teams went after King, averaging 5.4 snaps per target and 6.3 per reception, the latter of which was the worst in the league.

And King, who turns 30 this December, might not be viewed as a long-term option near the line of scrimmage. A position switch to safety could be in the works should he make the final 53-man squad.

Myles Bryant was an under-the-radar free agent signing after a four-year stay in New England. Texans general manager Nick Caserio quickly signed him while working in the Patriots’ front office and did the same once Bryant became a free agent.

Even though New England elected not to re-sign the 26-year-old, Bryant found a way to make the active roster as an undrafted free agent out of Washington. And no, this wasn’t one of those backup-only types.

Bryant played in 55 total games and started 17 in the nickel.  Last season, he started a career-high nine games, recording 77 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception.

Bryant also played clean football, recording 443 coverage snaps without a penalty after being flagged twice in the first three games.

The Texans tied the Philadelphia Eagles for the league lead in defensive pass interference calls last season, making Bryant’s addition more than welcomed.

Houston’s final listed nickel cornerback on the team’s depth chart is D’Angelo Ross, though it’s hard to imagine a player with 50 career coverage snaps pushing for a starting spot.

Lassiter may have to play the nickel out of necessity. In that scenario, Houston, barring a late free agent signing, would turn to Jeff Okudah or C.J. Henderson.

Lassiter played in the slot during his freshman campaign in Athens, albeit in limited playing time. Over the next two seasons, he became one of the stickiest defenders in college football, allowing the fewest completions and the second-lowest completion percentage among FBS defensive backs.

As an All-SEC defender in 2023, Lassiter surrendered 136 yards on 15 catches last season with Georgia. Opponents completed just 38.5% of passes when targeting receivers covered the Alabama native. 

The Texans looked past Lassiter’s 40-time and looked at other measurables. An area of strength for the “Locksmith” came in the three-cone drill, where he posted the fastest time (6.62) of any defensive back at the combine. 

It’ll be an evolving story throughout the offseason as the Texans look to improve their pass defense, which conceded the 10th-most yards through the air last season.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire