Juice ‘n Tank: Texans trade up to take Scruggs, Dell

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 04: Wide receiver Tank Dell of Houston participates in a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 04, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) (Stacy Revere, 2023 Getty Images)

HOUSTON – The Houston Texans brought the “Juice” and landed a “Tank” in the NFL Draft Friday night.

The Texans traded up twice on the second day of the draft, first to select Penn State center Juice Scruggs with the 62nd pick and then to get Houston Cougars wide receiver Tank Dell seven spots later.

Scruggs is named Frederick, but earned his nickname as a baby when his father said he wouldn't drink milk and only wanted juice.

Dell, whose legal name is Nathaniel, is far from the first NFL player to earn the moniker, but at 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, he might well be the smallest. His mother bestowed the name upon him as a baby because she thought he had a large head.

The Texans sent picks No. 65, 188 and 230 to the Eagles to move up and get their pick near the end of the second round for Scruggs. Later, they sent picks No. 73 and 151 to the Los Angeles Rams to keep Dell in Houston.

Scruggs missed the entire 2019 season after breaking a vertebra in his back in a serious car accident in March of that year. He spent months in a back brace while recovering from his injuries.

“Great attitude, great kid, great story," general manager Nick Caserio said. “And he gives us some flexibility there on the interior offensive line.”

Scruggs said he wondered if he'd ever make it back on the field during his rehabilitation.

“It went through my head, but at the same time, I wasn’t gonna let that be the end of my career,” he said. “I just knew it was going to be a long road and I was just ready to do whatever I had to do... to be on the field again.”

Dell had two straight 1,300-yard seasons to wrap up his career with the Cougars. He caught 32 touchdowns in three years at Houston.

He believes his size caused him to fall to the third round and said he wrote in his notes the names of every receiver drafted ahead of him.

“It’s on,” he 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 get to that level I know can will be at.”

Caserio didn't shy away from the fact that Dell is smaller than most NFL receivers, but said that didn't matter to the Texans.

“He’s small, but... you can’t change your size,” Caserio said. “You figure out a way to be productive and be a good football player. And Tank has been as productive as any offensive skill player in the country over the last two years, and went down to the Senior Bowl and frankly nobody covered him.”

The Texans needed reinforcements at the position after trading top receiver Brandin Cooks to the Cowboys in March.

Scruggs and Dell join Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, who was taken second overall, and Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr., who the Texans traded up to take third on Thursday night.

The 6-3, 301-pound Scruggs is a versatile lineman who played both guard and center at Penn State. He started 12 games last season and was selected to the All-Big Ten third team by coaches.

He joins an offensive line led by left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who signed a three-year $75 million extension this offseason that made him the highest-paid left tackle in the NFL and will keep him in Houston through the 2026 season.

Dell raved about Stroud and is antsy to start working with him.

“Me and C.J. are going to get to work,” he said. “I want to go to work tonight, but it’s going to have to hold on.”

Houston has six picks on Saturday starting with the second and third picks in the fourth round.

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