There is more excitement about the upcoming NFL draft in Houston than there has been in a number of years. The Houston Texans have extra picks, the number two overall selection, and a coaching staff they can believe in. Considering the interest around the draft, we decided to take a tour of the different SBNation fansites to get an up close and personal look at the various draft prospects the Texans might consider.
There is no better place to start than Alabama. Brent Taylor (@btbama22) from Roll “Bama Roll was gracious enough to join us for five questions about Bryce Young, Will Anderson, and some of the other Alabama prospects you might see drafted in April. As you might suspect, we started our conversation with the elephant in the room.
Battle Red Blog: Most Texans fans are in love with Bryce Young. How do you see him comparing to the other prominent guys on the board like C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson?
Brent Taylor: To be VERY clear, I think the fact that Anthony Richardson and Will Levis are being considered first round QBs is ridiculous and is a hive-mind product. They weren’t even good in college, and usually that’s at least a prerequisite to being drafted high. At least Richardson has the athletic upside... But Levis is going to get a GM fired.
In any case, I think Bryce Young and CJ Stroud are the two. I’ll get to more on my thoughts about Bryce later, but I’d consider choosing between him and Stroud to be a preference choice. If you like a QB that operates within a system and on schedule, Stroud is your guy. If you prefer a little chaos in your life, it’s Bryce.
BRB: Alabama has been blessed with some quarterbacks. Obviously, Jalen Hurts, Tua, and Mac Jones immediately come to mind. How do you see him comparing to those guys? Where would you rank those four as an Alabama fan?
BT: 1- Tua Tagovailla
2- Mac Jones
3- Bryce Young
4- Jalen Hurts
Tua is the best college QB I’ve ever watched. He’s been riddled with injuries his entire career that’s hampered his results in both college and the NFL, but people really underestimate just how ridiculous Alabama’s offense was in 2018-2019. The dude was usually on the bench by halftime because he scored every single drive in the first half.
Mac’s single season was the best in program history, and though he lacked the arm talent, his ability to make throws in the face of getting leveled was really impressive.
Bryce had the most jaw dropping plays and more often made something out of nothing with minimal support, but his offense was never consistent or on schedule. He makes amazing plays, but he also creates a lot of his own problems that he then has to do something crazy to make it work out.
As far as Jalen Hurts.... His NFL resurgence has been awesome and the amount that he’s grown and improved over the years is crazy impressive. But his sophomore year at Alabama was brutal to watch. Roll right, throw it away. Repeat.
BRB: NFL teams will be tearing these guys lives upside down as they prepare for the draft in April. How is Young off the field and in the locker room? Do you see him being a quality face of the franchise?
BT: Yeah, he’s as a good of a leader and a human as you can ask for. He’s been a star QB since he was a kid and has been trained in press conferences since high school, so he’s always going to be a safe, solid PR guy. And his teammates all love him. Just a genuinely good dude that’s always got a big smile and is great on camera.
BRB: Houston likely won’t draft a defender, but many draft experts have Will Anderson near the top of the draft. Who would you compare him to as a linebacker at the next level? Where does he rank amongst great Crimson Tide defenders of the past?
BT: I don’t really do pro comps very well. But I have seen Von Miller, Shaq Barrett, and Khalil Mack in other people’s reports. Anderson is 6’4” 240, so he’s not a massive edge or anything. And I don’t think he’s going to be a freak athlete as a Combine tester.
He is amazingly explosive though. He’s lightning-quick off the snap, and does a great job of transferring that initial speed into a power rush that really outweighs his size. As good as he is as a pass rusher, I actually think he’s an even better run defender. The dude just blows up blocking scenes.
As a couple of negatives: he doesn’t really have a great pure speed rush (you know, where you see an edge “bend” around a corner), and he’s not the most consistent tackler.
As for where he ranks among Alabama defenders? His 2021 was the best season for a pass rusher in Nick Saban’s tenure... And his 2022 (for all people have complained about being a disappointing season), was the 4th best.
Derrick Thomas from the 80s still has pretty untouchable records, but Anderson is easily #2 and there’s a big gap after him.
If you want to include defensive backs, I’d put Minkah Fitzpatrick up there with him as the two best defenders of Nick Saban’s tenure.
BRB: Our focus is clearly on top of the draft, but teams are made and broken based on how often they hit on later picks. Who are some players outside of Young and Anderson that Texans fans should get to know?
BT: Jahmyr Gibbs is likely a high second round pick that Houston could be in a spot to pick. The dude is a crazy fast speed back who’s deadly in the passing game.
I think it’s also worth looking at Brian Branch. The slot corner has been the engine that’s made Alabama’s entire scheme work the last two seasons. He’s a very good athlete, can cover giant TEs or tiny slot receivers, and tackles like a linebacker. I think he’s been consistently underrated nationally, but I am starting to see the occasional mock draft slip him into the first round. #12 might be a bit high, but he’d be a great pick in the 20s after a trade back, or perfect at #33.
In the late rounds, DT Byron Young is a solid player who’s good for shooting gaps to make a big play in the passing game once or twice a game and I think could be a good 3rd down rotational interior rusher in the NFL.
Cam Latu is a TE who converted from defensive end only a couple of years ago. He’s a powerful, explosive athlete that can really do some damage after the catch. He had some drops and missed some blocks in 2021 (his first year as a starting TE) but showed significant improvement in 2022. He’s a high upside pick that still needs development, but it’s encouraging that he’s on an upward path.
We wanted to thank Brent again for joining us this week. Please feel free to check out him and all of the other fine work at Roll ‘Bama Roll for all of your Crimson Tide news and analysis. We want to wish Brent the best of luck and if all goes well then we will hear one or two Crimson Tide players’ names called in April on day one, two, or three.