Another trade lands UH receiver Tank Dell

Tank Dell said he had prayed that he would stay in Houston and be drafted by the Texans this weekend.

Well, his prayers were answered.

The Texans traded the No. 73 pick and No. 161 pick to the Los Angeles Rams for the No. 69 pick and the No. 191 pick to get the UH wide receiver at No. 69. 

“I told all the coaches, I even signed a message to the page on Instagram telling them to keep me home,” Dell said. “It’s a blessing just to be here.”

It was the Texans’ third time moving up in the past two days. They traded up in the first round to get Will Anderson at No. 3, then again in the second round to get center Juice Scruggs.

The Texans have now addressed all four of their most pressing needs in the draft.

Dell, who is 5-8, 165 pounds, led the country this past year with 1,398 yards receiving and 17 receiving touchdowns. He was second in the country with 109 receptions. He was one of the standouts at the Senior Bowl in February where his stock rose. 

He said his parents and family were there to celebrate with him.

Just how productive was Dell at Houston? In his final two seasons with the Cougars, Dell accounted for 199 catches, 2,727 yards and 29 touchdowns. He was one of the most targeted receivers in college football with 291 the past two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Explosive plays, that should be my nickname, because all I know is explosive plays,” Dell said. “I’m coming to help. I just want to win.”

His mother nicknamed him “Tankhead” short when he was born because his mother said his head was bigger than his body, he told the Chronicle in February. He began at Alabama A&M and then a community college before transferring to UH, where he played three years.

“This is the city to take a chance on me,” Dell said. “This city brought me in. The fans was loving me and I just love the culture of Houston.

He was the ninth receiver to be selected in the 2023 draft. He said he wrote in his notes all the receivers who went before him, as well as the defensive backs, to use as motivation because he felt he was the best player in the draft.

“It’s on,” Dell said. “I feel like I’ve got something to prove. I’m playing with chips on my shoulders and I’m coming to help win and rebuild the program and help get the program to the level I know we can be at.”

Dell will likely play in the slot with the Texans. He gives quarterback C.J. Stroud another weapon to utilize. Dell said he just got off a phone call with Stroud.

“That’s my guy,” Dell said of Stroud. “It’s going to be great. He knows how to win. He had some great receivers there, and I feel like I’m one of those guys also. Me and C.J. going to get to work. I want to get to work tonight.”

With one of the worst passing attacks in the league in 2022, receiver was one of the Texans biggest needs this offseason. 

The Texans traded leading wide receiver Brandin Cooks and lost Phillip Dorsett and Chris Moore, who signed with other teams in free agency. They signed former Titans receiver Robert Woods and Cowboys receiver Noah Brown in free agency to pair with Nico Collins. 

Statistically Brown and Woods are upgrades over Moore and Dorsett, but the Texans needed more, because even with Cooks, they needed help. 

Though Dell isn’t viewed as a No. 1 wide receiver, his production indicates he can be a significant contributor this season. 

“I think Tank takes a lot of pride in who he is, what he’s about, what he’s overcome,” Texans general manager Nick Caserio said. “I think he views himself as a football player. I’ve had the good fortune of being around a lot of really good football players who weren’t the biggest.”

Dell has the potential to return punts as well, a need for the Texans heading into the 2023 season. 

“Couldn’t be more excited,” UH coach Dana Holgorsen said. “I loved coaching Tank and having him continue his career in Houston is as good as it gets.”

Joseph Duarte contributed to this report.

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