John McClain: After Stroud’s visit with the Texans, Young is on his way to NRG Stadium

Feb 2, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans head coach Demeco Ryans speaks to the media during his introductory press conference at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

John McClain: After Stroud’s visit with the Texans, Young is on his way to NRG Stadium

First-year coach DeMeco Ryans met with the media on Tuesday, and he navigated questions about quarterbacks Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud like a veteran with 10 years of head-coaching experience.

The Texans have the second pick behind Carolina in the three-day draft that begins on April 27. Stroud visited the Texans last week. Young visits this week. Ryans wouldn’t talk about them specifically, but he did explain what he’s looking for in prospects who are among the 30 who are invited to come to NRG Stadium.

“It’s part of our process where we’re trying to do as thorough of an evaluation as possible with all these guys,” Ryans said. “It’s just one more chance for us to get more detailed on guys, to figure out as much information as we can to make sure we’re adding the right guys to our team.

“With the 30 visits — not only with the quarterbacks but with every position – (there are) guys we may have a few more questions on. It’s time for us to get them in our building, a chance for our coaches to interact with them, install offenses or defenses to see how sharp they are. I’ve been happy with the 30 visits. We had a lot of great young men in our building, so it’s been fun getting to know these guys throughout the process.”

As the draft draws closer, there are reports in the national media that general manager Nick Caserio may pass on the quarterback the Panthers don’t select if that prospect isn’t the one the Texans favor. Those reports say the Texans could pivot to Will Anderson Jr., the edge rusher who won the Rotary Lombardi Award.

There’s one problem with those reports: They don’t explain who’s going to start at quarterback in Ryans’ first season? Case Keenum? Davis Mills? The Texans have won 11 games over the last three seasons. Caserio, Ryans, and the McNair family expect to see improvement. They know they need a franchise quarterback. They don’t believe they’re going to be picking high in the first round again. That’s why they’re expected to draft Young or Stroud – the quarterback the Panthers pass up.

When Ryans was asked if there’s a chance they pass up a quarterback, he quickly said, “I won’t talk specifically about what we’re doing with our plans for the draft. We’ll evaluate. When it’s our time to pick, we’ll have to be ready to pick.”

Then, Ryans was asked if the Texans have been involved in discussions about swapping spots with the Panthers.

“Again, I won’t get into draft strategy and trades and all of those things,” he said.

Like all coaches, Ryans likes to meet with players to see how they handle themselves and respond to questions, whether they’re about football or life.

That’s especially important with quarterbacks because their success or failure is so crucial for a franchise. If a team is going to invest a high pick – like second overall – the GM and coaches want to know everything possible about that prospect.

“It’s not a set list of questions we go down,” Ryans said. “It’s organic because each individual is different. I don’t treat guys the same, or I don’t have the same set of questions for everybody. It’s just an organic meeting to get to know the person (and) understand what motivates them.”

Ryans and offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik know what they want in a quarterback, whether it’s the mental or physical part of playing the position that had a revolving door last season because of injuries and ineptness.

“With any position, I think the quality I’m looking for is guys who are dedicated to work, guys who are dedicated to be the best at what they’re doing,” Ryans said. “I feel like you get guys with that right mindset (and) they’re truly coachable (and) accountable to their teammates. You get guys with the right mindset, guys who want to be better, it doesn’t matter what the position is. We want guys willing to be coachable, willing to work, guys who want to be the best at what they’re doing.”

If the Texans draft a quarterback, as expected, the Texans will never say he’s going to be a day one starter. They’ll say he has to earn that role. Ryans has experience with rookie quarterbacks. With the 49ers, Ryans watched Trey Lance start at the end of his rookie year, including a victory over the Texans. He watched Brock Purdy start last season when Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo were injured.

“With the quarterback position, it’s all about the guy,” Ryans said about rookie starters. “We talk about a rookie quarterback, a veteran quarterback, it doesn’t matter. What’s the makeup of the guy? Is he worthy to start for your team? That’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter where the guy is in his career – who’s the best guy, the right guy for our team? We don’t know that right now. We’ll figure that out when the time comes.”

The Texans have never had the second overall pick. Last year, Caserio selected cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., with the third selection. They’ve had the first pick three times, drafting quarterback David Carr in 2002, defensive end Mario Williams in 2006, and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in 2014. None finished his career with the Texans.

“It’s exciting for us to have the No. 2 pick, but at the same time, there’s no pressure where a young man is picked,” Ryans said. “I think it’s unfair to ask a guy just because you’re picked No. 2 overall, you’re the face of our franchise, and you’re the leader.”

That’s easy for Ryans to say. In 2006, when he was the first pick of the second round, Ryans watched Williams be taken first and saw the immediate pressure he was under to produce – not so much by the team but fans and media. Players selected high, especially a quarterback, are going to face enormous pressure from the outside. Ryans and his coaches want to minimize that pressure from inside NRG Stadium.

“I’m not going to put that type of weight on the shoulders of whoever we pick,” Ryans said. “That’s not what we’re anticipating. That’s not what we’re expecting them to do. We’re expecting them to come in, be a great teammate, work hard, be deliberate in what you’re doing, and have a mindset to get better every day. That’s the mindset no matter if it’s pick two or the last pick of the draft.

“Leaders? Those guys will grow based on our team. Each team is different. We have leaders in our locker room already, so I’m not asking a guy to come in and be this savior. We’re asking him to come in and put his head down and just work. I let them know from the start there’s no pressure. It’s unfair to say a guy is the leader of an organization, and he hasn’t played one snap for our team.”

It took about half of his rookie season for Deshaun Watson to become an offensive leader in 2017. Then he suffered a season-ending knee injury. In 2018, he was established as the leader on offense. With the clock ticking down until the draft, there are two questions that’ll be answered: Who’s the new franchise quarterback, and how long will it take him to become the kind of leader Ryans wants at the most important position on the team?

(John McClain writes four columns a week for He can be heard Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on Sports Radio 610 and Thursday on Texans Radio. He does three weekly Houtopia podcasts for 610. He also can be read three times a week on


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