Feb 2, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans head coach Demeco Ryans listens to a question from the media during his introductory press conference at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
PHOENIX – First-year coach DeMeco Ryans didn’t disclose which quarterback the Texans are planning to draft with the second overall pick, but he did say Bryce Young’s size isn’t an issue.
Speaking with reporters at the NFL meetings on Monday, Ryans said Young’s measurements at the combine – 5-10 1/8, 204 – won’t be a problem for the Texans if he’s the quarterback they target on April 27, the first day of the draft.
The Texans are expected to select Young or C.J. Stroud, the highest-rated prospects at their position.
“I know there’s a lot of talk about his size, but the guy’s done it at the highest level of college football, and size doesn’t seem to be a problem,” Ryans said when asked about Young. “I don’t see it as an issue because I watch the tape. You put on the tape, and you see how smart he is – the anticipation, the accuracy, how this guy’s calm in critical moments. When you see those things, size isn’t one of the factors you look at and say, ‘Oh, man, it’s a problem.’ You just look at the track record and see what he’s done in the SEC and how successful he was, and I think he’ll be successful in the NFL as well.”
When he’s evaluating Young, Stroud, or any quarterback prospect on tape, talking with them or talking to others about them, there’s one thing, in particular, Ryans wants to know.
“The most important attribute I look for is how’s his leadership style?” Ryans said. “Can those other 10 guys look at you in the huddle and know that, ‘We can count on this guy to make a play. We believe in him.’ And then you have to look at (your) defensive guys, and can they count on him? Is that quarterback the guy that can galvanize a locker room, rally the troops and get guys to believe in him? That’s the trait, and it’s easier said than done because so few guys can do that. They’re special guys. And everyone’s different. Some rookies can do it better than others. Some take time to develop. It’s a unique position. It’s not cookie-cutter where one size fits all. There are different styles that work.”
Ryans was asked about the Texans not sending coaches to pro days at Alabama and Ohio State to help in their scouting reports on Young and Stroud. He said they continue to evaluate them on tape, had meetings with them at the combine, and will include them among the 30 prospects who can come to Houston as part of the evaluation process. They can’t work out at NRG Stadium, but the Texans can go on the road with them for private workouts and dinners.
“We had guys (scouts) who were there that we trust,” Ryans said about the pro days at Alabama and Ohio State. “We watched our guys on film, guys that we’ve evaluated – all the quarterbacks and linebackers and D-linemen – we’re watching all the players. Not going to the pro days is not a knock (against the Texans) because we had guys who were there.
“We have those guys scheduled (to visit). That’s part of it (scouting). The pro day’s one part of it. We have the combine, the 30 visits, film – it’s all-encompassing when we’re evaluating players. It’s not just about one event. It’s about making sure we have a full assessment of all the players.”
When the Texans bring in 30 players for visits, they get to spend a day with them. Ryans knows what he’s looking for in a prospect, especially one who’s talented enough to be the second overall pick.
“Our approach is to continue to know the man,” he said. “We’ll also dive into football. We’re trying to get as much information as we can about the players but also off the field and how they interact with different coaches and staff around the building.”
Young and Stroud are expected to be the first players drafted by the Panthers and Texans. Carolina has the first pick, and the Panthers aren’t even hinting about which quarterback they’ll select. Will Levis, Anthony Richardson, and perhaps Hendon Hooker also are expected to be quarterbacks drafted in the first round.
Despite the thorough scouting process that includes in-person meetings, private workouts, analytics, and psychological profiles – among many other factors that go into the final decision, teams still make so many mistakes on quarterbacks. Sometimes, it’s not the quarterback’s fault. It can be his coaches, his new system, not enough talent around him, or an impatient owner.
“Quarterback is the most important position, but it’s also the toughest position to play in the NFL,” Ryans said. “There are only so few, right? Every year, there’s only a handful of guys who are really good, who transition from college to the NFL, and be successful. Not too many can do it. It’s a credit to the guys coming out who are capable of being successful. It’s also about surrounding those guys with a lot of good pieces to help them be successful.”
One position Ryans and his offensive staff won’t have to worry about is the backup quarterback. General manager Nick Caserio signed Case Keenum to come home to Houston. Keenum, 35, set NCAA records for the Cougars, and this is the third time he’s signed with the Texans.
“Case has done it for a long time, and he’s respected,” Ryans said. “He’ll be a very important piece to what we’re doing. He’s a veteran in the quarterback room who’s done it and can help out Davis (Mills) and the other young guys. He can say some things that may be a little different than what the coaches said. We’re excited to have Case because of his experience and his wealth of knowledge.”
Keenum is just one of the important players Caserio has acquired this month. Players like right guard Shaq Mason, tight end Dalton Schultz, wide receiver Robert Woods, safety Jimmie Ward and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins should become starters. Running back Devin Singletary should bolster the running game behind Dameon Pierce. Among the other free agents competing for playing time are linebacker Denzel Perryman, linebacker Cory Littleton, defensive end Chase Winovich, defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and receiver Noah Brown.
“We’ve added some really good players, veterans with experience,” Ryans said.
“All the guys we signed, it’s about depth and competition. We signed them for a reason, to come in and compete and prove to us and their teammates who belongs. We’ll see what happens when the time comes. We’re excited to get started, see them on the field, and see where we are as a team. Now, let’s jell, become a true team and see where it takes us.”
(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).