Dec 26, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
John McClain: No matter how he pulls it off, Nick Caserio must come out of the first round with a quarterback
If general manager Nick Caserio comes out of the first round of the draft with a franchise quarterback and a dynamic edge rusher, fans should put a red suit on him and call him Saint Nick.
But if Caserio leaves the first round without a quarterback the Texans can sell to fans and media, he’ll throw water on a fire that’s burned brightly since DeMeco Ryans was hired as the head coach in January.
Only two times in franchise history have the Texans invested heavily in a rookie quarterback – David Carr in 2002 and Deshaun Watson in 2017 – and neither finished his career in Houston. Carr was released after the 2006 season, and Watson was traded to Cleveland in 2022.
Other than Carr and Watson, the Texans have never drafted a quarterback in the first two rounds. The only third-round picks were Dave Ragone in 2003 and Davis Mills in 2021. It’s time for that to change.
The Texans won’t get the quarterback they covet most, Bryce Young. They beat Indianapolis in the last game and lost the first pick in the draft. Blame it on the Curse of Lovie Smith.
If Caserio doesn’t draft a quarterback in the first round, fans are going to become enraged. They can accept Caserio gifting Ryans with an edge rusher like Will Anderson Jr. or Tyree Wilson with the second overall pick because both are top-six prospects, but using two first-round selections without filling the biggest need on the team would cause the fan base to get hysterical.
If the most pressing problem on the team isn’t solved, the Texans better overpay for 49ers’ quarterback Trey Lance or start negotiations with Lamar Jackson’s agent – Lamar Jackson.
Let’s try to look at the situation rationally. If Caserio and Ryans don’t believe a quarterback is worth the second overall pick, they shouldn’t force the issue. You can’t make someone fall in love, so the Texans should draft Anderson or Wilson and satisfy their second-biggest need.
Then it gets tricky. The Texans have the 12th pick in the first round. Will one of the top-five prospects – Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Will Levis, or Hendon Hooker still be available? Will the Texans even like the quarterbacks who are?
After Young, the prospects seem to be rising and falling, but that could be a well-orchestrated plan by a team hoping a quarterback falls into their laps. Stroud is falling, but Levis is rising. Richardson is rising, but Levis is falling.
Hooker, in particular, seems to be getting more popular by the day without throwing a pass. Could all five of the top prospects be gone by the time the Texans make the 12th pick?
If that’s the case, Caserio should consider trading back. Wouldn’t that be interesting? He likes to wheel and deal at draft time, but the truth is, he doesn’t need more picks unless he’d be planning to trade up rather than down.
Maybe Caserio will package some of his collection of draft choices this year and next year – that’s 23 picks as we approach Thursday — to move up to select a quarterback he wants. He’d be Slick Nick.
Who would be the most likely partners to trade back up? The Cardinals? What about the Seahawks, Lions, Raiders, Falcons, or Bears? It would depend on which quarterback was available.
Trading back up would certainly require a first-round pick in 2024. And more.
The team that swapped first-round picks with Caserio would require costly compensation, but if he, Ryans, and offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik just had to have that prospect, go for it. Almost assuredly, Caserio would have to include his second-round pick, 33rd overall, and one of his threes to make that move for a franchise quarterback. So, a two and a three this year and a one next year. That’s an expensive proposition, but the Texans have a quarterback itch they just have to scratch.
The bottom line is that until the Texans figure out what to do at quarterback, they’re just spinning their wheels. That need must be taken care of. They can fill in around the quarterback. They’re not planning to pick this high again. Then again, they thought there was no way they’d end up with the second overall pick this year, either.
(John McClain writes four columns a week for GallerySports.com. 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 SportsRadio610.com).
2020 draft – Watson is established at QB
2021 draft – Mills drafted in 3rd round
2022 draft – Mills showed promise, not a good draft for QB’s
2023 draft – For the first time since 2017, the Texans have an immediate need. They also have a high draft pick. They MUST draft a QB high and not get cute trading down.
Nah, I’d rather them feel comfortable passing on any position, even quarterback, if its not worth the draft capital necessary to make the selection.
I think trading back from #2 should be on the table. If they trade the #2 pick, the Texans will NOT be able to guarantee getting a QB in this draft.
I know the idea of another lousy season sounds frustrating. However not wasting your draft capital is probably the best and quickest way to reaching the playoffs.
If the Texans can get back the draft capital in a trade back that McClain suggests in a trade up, then in my opinion, its a no-brainer that the Texans trading back should be on the table. Get an high 2nd round pick, a 3rd rounder, and a future 1st.
Besides, this team will be easier to watch next season if many of the new free agent additions and their rookies from last season take steps forward. And if last year’s rookies do not take a step forward the new GM in Houston may benefit from the extra draft capital.