Now that the NFL Draft is well over with, it's time for teams like the Houston Texans to start figuring out their eventual 53-man roster for the 2024 season.

The work that Texans general manager Nick Caserio and head coach DeMeco Ryans did in their first season together can't go unnoticed. They had a remarkable first draft, bringing in what would be Rookie Offensive Player of the Year C.J. Stroud and Rookie Defensive Player of the Year Will Anderson, among others. They have since followed that up with another impressive offseason in 2024.

To start, they added Danielle Hunter to help Anderson and the team's pass rush. They also made a trade with the Buffalo Bills for wide receiver Stefon Diggs to give Stroud yet another weapon to go along with Tank Dell and Nico Collins. Then in April, they followed that up with what hopes to be another impressive rookie class in their nine draft picks.

But as the draft concluded, teams like the Texans were still on the hunt to add to their team, filling up what will be, for now, a 90-man roster. They did so by signing six undrafted free agents.

Here they are:

  • British Brooks, RB
  • Tarique Barnes, LB
  • Jadon Janke, WR
  • Jaxon Janke, WR
  • Max Tooley, LB
  • Pheldarius Payne, DL

Looking at all six undrafted free agents, if we had to pick only one to make the 53-man roster on the next-to-last Tuesday before the regular season begins, it would probably be Virginia Tech football's defensive lineman Pheldarius Payne.

Virginia Tech's Pheldarius Payne has the best chance to make the Texans' 53-man roster

With Maliek Collins and Sheldon Rankins both leaving Houston, the Texans' need for a defensive tackle rose. Caserio and Ryans did put some emphasis on the defensive front via the draft with Solomon Byrd and Marcus Harris, but it wasn't until the seventh round.

Currently, the Texans' only starters at defensive tackle are veterans Foley Fatukasi and Denico Autry, and even Autry is spending more time over at defensive end these days. Despite the signings of Byrd and Harris, this leaves the position needing some depth. With the way Ryans has been known to develop undrafted free agents, this could bode well for Pheldarius Payne's chances of making the 53-man roster come September.

Payne was one of CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso's No. 4 ranked undrafted free agents out of seven total.

“You can't miss Payne the second you flip on the film for two reasons — he's one of the smaller defensive tackles and he's athletically charged up like an oversized linebacker,” Trapasso said. “That first-step bolt is serious and led to six sacks and 23 total pressures on a mere 162 pass-rush snaps at Virginia Tech in 2023.”

Payne began his college career at the junior college level before making his way to Nebraska in 2020. Injuries, however, have caused a bit of a hiccup in his career, like when he tore his Achilles tendon back in 2022. He played in just eight games that season.

Payne pretty much returned to full form last season for the Hokies. Playing in all 13 games, he posted 23 total tackles, 10 for a loss, six sacks, two quarterback hits, 15 hurries, one pass deflection, and one forced fumble. Coming off the Achilles injury from the previous season, he graded out for the season at 90.5 defensively. He graded 80-plus in five games, according to Pro-Football-Focus.

Right now, second on the depth chart would be Tim Settle and former undrafted free agent Khalil Davis. But Payne could easily come in and compete with either to earn a spot, where he could be used in certain matchups.

“He has real sub-package rush talent, which is what [he] will need to shine to make the team,” Lance Zierlein of said.