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Reacting to Mel Kiper Jr.’s First Mock Draft

Mel Kiper’s first mock draft is now out. I have thoughts.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Ohio State v Georgia Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

It’s officially draft season, well at least for the Houston Texans. After giving up its control of the draft to the will and fancy of the Chicago Bears, the Houston Texans are still in position to execute this draft with the future still in tact.

Most importantly, their two first round picks offer the opportunity to reinvigorate both sides of the ball. In my own defensive minded draft, which went semi-viral thanks to your readership, focused on only the defense. In Mel Kiper’s first mock of the season, he evens the playing field, but certainly makes two leaps of faith and we’ll analyze the thought process behind both.

2. Houston Texans - C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Houston just fired coach Lovie Smith, and the franchise’s clear offseason priority has to be upgrading at the quarterback position. Davis Mills really struggled in his second season as the Texans’ offense was among the league’s worst in several statistical categories. With two top-12 picks in this draft, they have to get quality starters as they continue their rebuild.

I see Stroud as the best fit here as the Texans could get their pick of the top passers. He’s extremely accurate, can make every throw and has excellent touch at every level of the field. I usually don’t put much stock into a single game evaluation, but Stroud’s performance in the narrow loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals showed me something. He was spectacular against an elite defense, carving up the Bulldogs with his arm and using his legs to maneuver the pocket and find receivers. Houston still has several needs, but it should start with Stroud. I have Stroud just barely behind Will Levis (Kentucky) and Bryce Young (Alabama) in my rankings, but Stroud gets the nod here because of how he would fit.

Instant Reaction:

What system? What fit? What ranking does he have these QBs in??

Kiper rocks the boat here with a surprising pick of QB C.J. Stroud, allowing Bryce Young to fall to the Colts at the 4th overall pick.

If this is a mock draft pick for mock draft picking-sake, then fine. If it’s smoke and mirrors per the request of our inept overload Cal McNair, fine. But the logic that the Texans are going to select a player based on a scheme fit is a fallacy. I’d be surprised if Pep Hamilton lasts the offseason when the new coach is decided, especially if it’s Sean Peyton.

The argument will be made from now until April which QB to go with. I imagine Will Levis’ NFL Combine performance will make this all the more difficult.

Stroud’s performance against the eventual national champions Georgia Bulldogs was an illustration of his potential at the next level. He has the full slate of gifts; quality pocket presence, ability to scramble, clear vision of the field, and a slick deep ball.

The height different between Stroud and Bryce Young will be a talking point for the talking heads for months to come. If it is in fact the line of demarcation between the two QBs, we need to reevaluate how we in fact evaluate QBs. If Stroud is in fact the guy, it will be a new era in Houston, again.

12. Houston Texans (via CLE) - Lukas Van Ness, DL, Iowa

I gave the Texans their quarterback of the future with the No. 2 pick, and general manager Nick Caserio should go with the best prospect on his board with this selection, which was acquired in the Deshaun Watson trade. Don’t get picky and try to plug a hole — this roster has to improve in several spots. Van Ness is a versatile and productive defender who made an impact at end and tackle for the Hawkeyes, even as he never actually started a game. He had 13.5 sacks over the past two seasons, 9.5 from the interior and four from the edge. NFL teams covet that sort of positional flexibility. He would get lots of early snaps for Houston.

Instant Reaction:

Funny enough, I saw former Battle Red Blog writer Brett Kollmann post about Lukas Van Ness last night and thought to look more into this pick.

The Texans would be passing on other defensive prospects such as Devon Witherspoon, or Joey Porter Jr., who I have the Texans mocked to take in this spot in my first Mock Draft. They’d also pass up on talented receivers Jaxson Smith-Njigba and Quentin Johnston, who are popular choices to align with a QB in the first round.

We’re all aware of the Texans defensive line woes. They really should have kept D.J. Reader, who is one win away from back-to-back Super Bowl games. There’s a young-but-unqualified corps of defensive lineman we have here, and I am not yet sold on Van Ness.

What is the difference in talent we’d pick up from a defensive lineman at 12 compared to 34? There’s only two other interior defensive lineman drafted in Kiper’s mock after the Texans take Van Ness. The drop off from Jalen Carter to Van Ness is exponentially bigger than the one from Van Ness to Siaki Ika, the 360 pound mammoth from Baylor.


Grade Mel’s First Round Mock For The Texans

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