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Evaluating Todd McShay’s Early 2023 Mock Draft

Crystal ball looks fairly murky

Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X - Ohio State v Utah Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

It’s never too early to make projections when the name of the game is making projections.

The dust has settled on the 2022 NFL Draft and the Texans’ draft haul has been relatively well received. A rejuvenated secondary, added talent on the offensive line, and several new playmakers on offense mark an impressive class.

Even so, there’s significant room for improvement. In ESPN’s Todd McShay’s 2023 Mock Draft, the Texans are predicted to hold the first overall pick. It would be the first time since 2014 the Texans had the first pick and the fourth time in franchise history.

With the first pick in the Houston Texans’ 2023 NFL Draft, Todd McShay predicts...

1. Houston Texans - C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State*

The Texans believe in quarterback Davis Mills, but if they actually end up picking No. 1 next April, something went terribly awry for Mills during his sophomore season. Stroud has a big arm, completing 71.9% of his passes for 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns and just six interceptions in 2021. The third-year sophomore has only 12 career starts, though, so all eyes will be on him this season.

Bryce Young won the Heisman Trophy this past season and almost got Alabama to another National Championship. Even so, C.J. Stroud stands to be the most pro-ready QB in this class and immediate starter at the next level. There’s a three-headed horse for the first overall pick; Stroud, Bryce Young, and DE Will Anderson. To McShay’s point, if the Texans do end up with the first pick its most likely due to an abysmal season with Davis Mills at the helm. This upcoming class stands to have significant more QB talent than the one that has transpired, but we though the same thing heading into the 2022 class before the season started.

In addition, the Texans hold Cleveland’s first round pick from the Watson trade.

23. Houston Texans (via CLE) - BJ Ojulari, DE, LSU*

We already got Houston a quarterback, so how about a high-end edge rusher for new coach Lovie Smith’s defense? I love Ojulari’s burst and bend off the edge.

Texans passed on a pass rusher this year but won’t get away with doing so for two straight seasons. At 23rd, McShay is projecting the Cleveland Browns to make the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The earlier the better for the Texans. Ojulari recorded seven sacks for the Tigers last season. Don’t be surprised if the Texans trade out of this pick to stock up on later and future picks. In addition, they’ll avoid extensive fifth-year option issues further down the line with their six first-rounders in three years.

I imagine these two drafts to fit together like a puzzle. Positions they reprioritized in 2022 will be emphasized in 2023. The Texans enter next year’s draft with a similar slate as this year’s draft: two first, two thirds, and plenty of Day Three picks.