The first wave of free agency is coming to a close and the league is poised to go through one of the more intriguing drafts in recent memory. The Houston Texans made some major moves in free agency and the draft should be the same. Jeremy Branham has been a part of the Houston sports radio scene for a number of years. He can be heard now on the Killer B’s on ESPN 97.5 FM.
There obviously is a lot to cover in regards to the Texans and their offseason. Five questions seems hardly enough these days as the team has added numerous new players and has a decision at quarterback that is the most significant since the 2017 draft. That is where we opened our discussion with Branham.
Battle Red Blog: With the first wave of free agency over, most of the attention has turned to the draft. Assuming we take a quarterback at number two, who would you take if you were making the pick? Who do you think ends up going there?
Jeremy Branham: If I’m forced to stick and pick at number two, and I must select a quarterback, I would take Bryce Young. My preference is trading down and stock piling picks for a team that needs a bigger foundation of young players, or even selecting Will Anderson, who I consider the best player in the draft. That said, I think Bryce has a shot to be a really good quarterback in this league without the risk of some of the other interesting QB prospects.
I’ve been going back and forth on who Carolina will take at 1.1. I’m one of the few that they are still trying to decide on two or three guys, and would entertain a trade down...at the right price. If I had to bet on it right now, I think Carolina takes Stroud and the Texans get their man in Bryce.
BRB: Has free agency changed your thinking on the 12th pick? What position would you be targeting there? Are there any specific names you have in mind?
JB: A little bit, yes. Dalton Schultz eliminates the idea of drafting a TE at 12. I’m of the belief that there isn’t a WR or TE worth picking at 12, but there’s a lot of value at those positions that I like in the second round. Schultz has completely ruled out TE, Robert Woods hasn’t completely ruled out WR, but I feel it’s too early at 12 for a WR. I want to leave the first round with at least a QB and DE. If I’m operating on the premise that Bryce is a Texan, I want a DE that can help anchor DeMeco’s defense. Will Anderson and Tyree Wilson will be off the board, so that leaves you with options like Myles Murphy, Nolan Smith and Lukas Van Ness. I’d be please with any of those three at 12.
BRB: The Texans were one of the more active teams in free agency. How would you grade them after the first couple of weeks? We’re there any moves you wish they had made that they didn’t make?
JB: I like what Nick has done quite a bit, I didn’t expect the Texans to spend a ton of money on any one or two players, nor should they. Also, I didn’t expect Nick to commit a lot of money on long term contracts, nor should he. Most multi-year deals with free agents are failures way more often than they are successes. The team has upgraded in free agency on both sides of the ball, he’s made life easier for a rookie QB in the NFL, and he hasn’t committed long term money that could jeopardize the financial health of the team down the road. I would have liked to figure out a way to get Schultz on a second year, but if this year’s TE market is any indication, you can get those above average TE’s on affordable one-year contracts.
BRB: Which free agent do you think will have the biggest impact in 2023? Is there a favorite of yours that might not have as big an impact, but you like as a player?
JB: My favorite FA signing is Case Keenum, Go Coogs! In all seriousness, I did think that was a shrewd signing. Another QB in the room that not only can help out a rookie QB, but also be a huge help for first-year QB coach Jerrod Johnson. Case is actually a few months older than Jerrod, and I think both have great futures in the coaching business.
Sheldon Rankins will have the biggest impact, the Texans were awful against the run last year, Rankins will help clean that up and provide a strong interior defensive line pairing with Maliek Collins. Another player I would have liked if Caserio gave a second year.
BRB: Obviously, the draft will be huge, but as things stand now, what do you see as the ceiling for the 2023 Texans?
It’s important to temper expectations, it’s understandable to be excited for where this team is going. DeMeco brings that excitement, the team will be much more talented post draft, but they still have work to do. Over the next couple of years, they still need to improve the overall talent of the roster, and they have to develop the young players. That takes time, and it’s very hard for a rookie QB to win right away. The 2023 Texans will look much better, and we’ll start to see hope that the organization is going in the right direction, but they’re still a below .500 team.
We wanted to thank Jeremy for participating in five questions. Stay tuned for more analysis from sports journalists around the Houston Texans to provide more hard hitting analysis as we move through the offseason. Remember, you can catch Jeremy on 97.5 FM from 12 to 3 on Monday through Friday.