Before the 2023 Houston Texans went on an absolute tear and became the new face of the AFC South, they had to first put in work and make the correct moves in the draft, pulling off an at-the-time controversial trade-up to secure Will Anderson one pick after selecting CJ Stroud second overall.

But now, in 2024, the Texans have to make good on that incredible foundation they made by further fortifying their roster with even more talent, some of whom may just make an impact as rookies just like Anderson and Stroud before them, including a very interesting tight end with OSU experience and a ball-hawking SoCal safety with sky-high potential.

These rookies could be players for the Houston Texans in 2024.

Ohio State Buckeyes tight end Cade Stover (8) gains yards during the NCAA football game against Michigan State University at Ohio Stadium.
Nov 11, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; /Ohio State Buckeyes tight end Cade Stover (8) gains yards during the NCAA football game against Michigan State University at Ohio Stadium.

2. Cade Stover could push Dalton Schultz at tight end.

Heading into the 2024 season, the Texans are bringing back their starting tight end in Dalton Schultz, a player who doesn't always get his due for being a top-tier receiving option but seems to always be a featured part of some of the best offenses the NFL has to offer.

And yet, despite signing Schultz to a three-year, $36 million contract that could keep him under team control until 2026 with a 2025 out, Houston drafted the performer who could ultimately take his spot in the not-too-distant future, maybe even as soon as this fall: Cade Stover.

Standing 6-foot-4, 247, Stover comes to Houston by way of Ohio State, where he played alongside CJ Stroud on the way to becoming the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft.

Though Stover wasn't Stroud's favorite target by any means, as Marvin Harrison Jr. was still on the team, he did account for 406 yards and five touchdowns in 2022 as the Buckeyes' top tight end and followed that up in 2023 with an even better 576-yard season, which ranked second on the team behind the future Arizona Cardinals WR1.

Is he still a work in progress? Sure thing, Stover actually behand his college career as a defensive lineman, but in the end, he got better in each season he played tight end and now enters the NFL a 24-year-old rookie on one of the better teams in the AFC where he can learn from a veteran in Schultz, play alongside him, and maybe just take his spot in the end when all is said and done in a few years time when he's ready to fill the role fully.

… or Stover could come to Houston and vastly outperform collegiate expectations, much like Stroud, and become the team's top tight end target, right from the jump? Considering Stover's career trajectory thus far and what general manager Nick Caserio had to say about him earlier this offseason, it's safe to say that is a genuine possibility that fans can't outright dismiss until proven otherwise.

1. Calen Bullock could push Jalen Pitre at safety.

In 2022, Jalen Pitre looked like he could be Houston's next great defensive back success story. Drafted in the second round out of Baylor, Pitre made an immediate impact as a rookie, picking off five passes during his debut NFL season while turning in solid efforts as a coverage player.

And yet, under DeMeco Ryans in 2023, Pirte didn't have the same fire in his game, with the second-year product struggling to make plays on the ball while paired up with ex-San Francisco 49ers safety Jimmie Ward as his partner in crime.

So, with neither Pitre nor Ward guaranteed to be long-term starters for the team moving forward, Caserio did what GMs do and added some good old-fashioned competition at the safety spot in Calen Bullock, an impressive USC product with a knack for picking off passes thrown his way.

Standing 6-foot-2, 188 pounds with 4.48 speed and a 1.51 10-yard split, Bullock played for one of the flashiest teams in college football over the past few years and more than did his fair share in contributing to that legacy, playing all over the Trojans's secondary while picking off at least two passes in each of his three seasons in LA for nine total over his career. While he wasn't particularly good at playing the run, Bullock more than made up for that in coverage, and could be a very interesting off-ball safety deployed deeper into coverage, where his speed and ball skills should allow him to thrive.

Does that sound like the type of player the Texans could use in 2024? You bet, which is good, because he's on the team now and could make an immediate impact as a rookie right out of the gate.