Confusion swirls around the top picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. Your Houston Texans, essentially a lock to take the #1 spot, lost it at the last moment by winning a meaningless game. The noise, rumors and outright lies about the best players available has risen to a fever pitch.
With so much uncertainty around Alabama Crimson Tide Quarterback Bryce Young, Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, Kentucky QB Will Levis, ‘Bama EDGE Will Anderson Jr. and others considered top contenders, it’s a safe bet Houston general manager Nick Caserio is earning his paycheck right about now.
For some time Stroud was expected to go to the Carolina Panthers, after they leap-frogged Houston to trade into the #1 spot via the Chicago Bears. Then Stroud’s stock seemed to drop while previously maligned Young saw his rise.
Now many, except Bill Parcells, believe Young is the safest bet in the class.
Bill Parcells via the Athletic
I realize there have been a couple of good short quarterbacks, but most of the guys doing these jobs are not 5-10. So if you draft people that look like the people that are already doing these jobs, your percentage (of hitting on them) is greater than if you draft someone who doesn’t look like them.
Then there’s Stroud, who some are currently speculating might fall well past the Texans at #2.
Then there’s the quarterback mystery. A month ago, C.J. Stroud was the odds-on favorite to be the first pick in the draft. Today, it’s no lock he goes in the top seven, which seems (and is) insane. Will Levis was an afterthought in many draft rooms as this month dawned; now he might be the fourth overall pick. Eleven years after an accomplished 5-10 3/4 quarterback, Russell Wilson, was picked 75th overall, an accomplished quarterback half-an-inch shorter, Bryce Young, is projected to go first overall.
Another option, should the Texans pass (no pun intended) on a quarterback with the #2 pick is a trade. How much value lies in the #2 overall pick this year? That depends on what other teams think, not necessarily on any of the draft trade valuation systems.
Albert Breer via SI.com
I’m excited for the draft.
You’re excited for the draft.
The teams at the top of the draft, though, aren’t quite as much, and that’s thanks to the makeup of a class that’ll have GMs in its upper reaches holding their … breath as they turn in their cards. There’s a lot to like, sure. But there’s plenty to worry about, too, and that’s from the top of the first round all the way to the bottom.
“If you have 15 first-round grades, then the class sucks,” said one general manager Saturday. “And I got less than 15 this year.”
Well, maybe Caserio and crew just trade back - essentially pulling a top of the draft “take your ball and go home.”
That’s exactly what the latest PFF.com mock draft has the Texans doing.
1. CAROLINA PANTHERS: QB BRYCE YOUNG, ALABAMA
You won’t find too many evaluators who don’t have Young as QB1 in the class. He truly doesn’t have any bad tape to point to from his two seasons as Alabama’s starter that would give evaluators pause about his size becoming an issue in the NFL. He’s the culture changer that the Panthers need.
2. DETROIT LIONS (VIA HOU): QB C.J. STROUD, OHIO STATE
The Lions saw how “safe” top-10 picks can be with Jeffrey Okudah. This time they aren’t missing out on their possible Justin Herbert. And if the Texans already have their eyes on next year’s quarterback class it may not take much draft capital to move up from the sixth overall pick. Stroud’s addition gives the Lions the flexibility to move on from Jared Goff’s $32 million cap hits in 2024 to go all-in on a Super Bowl window.
3. ARIZONA CARDINALS: EDGE WILL ANDERSON JR., ALABAMA
The Cardinals get usurped as the trade-up spot in this draft and have to “settle” for a blue-chip edge prospect in Anderson. Valuable positions should be the theme of this Cardinals draft for an utterly depleted roster.
4. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: QB WILL LEVIS, KENTUCKY
Ballard prioritizes tools more so than any NFL general manager, and he has his choice here of two uber-toolsy prospects. Levis is more battle-tested and NFL-ready than Richardson. He can easily start right away for a roster that needs it.
5. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: DI JALEN CARTER, GEORGIA
The Seahawks’ leadership has bought itself more than enough public goodwill to take a prospect who’s had the single most adventurous pre-draft process in the class. Ultimately, talent talks for the player who had the single best non-quarterback tape in 2022.
6. HOUSTON TEXANS (VIA DET): EDGE TYREE WILSON, TEXAS TECH
The Texans have needs everywhere and especially along their defensive line. Wilson is a versatile and uniquely tooled edge-rusher who can be a cornerstone type piece for DeMeco Ryans defense.
And one more for good measure:
Jaxon Smith-Njigba says "it would be awesome" to reunite with C.J. Stroud in Houston.— Michael Gartman (@_MichaelGartman) April 21, 2023
With the No. 2 and No. 12 overall picks, there's a good chance it happens for the #Texans. #WeAreTexans https://t.co/tWgELKG5hz pic.twitter.com/ceRswl3Vsx
12. HOUSTON TEXANS: WR JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA, OHIO STATE
The Texans may not have the quarterback yet, but now, they’ll have a nice bevy of weapons for whoever becomes the guy in Houston. Smith-Njigba is a high-floor slot who can be a focal point of an offense.
One thing is for sure, nothing is certain right now with the Houston Texans and the 2023 NFL draft.