Mar 4, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (QB15) during the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
It’s virtually impossible not to be optimistic about the Texans as they wind their way through what has been the most successful offseason in franchise history.
I know, I know. You’re going to remind me we’ve been fooled before. You’re going to say something about the Brock Osweiler era. That’s perfectly fair.
Besides, my assessment of this having been a great offseason is based on one decision: the hiring of DeMeco Ryans as head coach. While it’s just one, it appears to have been a great one.
Ryans has the it factor the best head coaches almost always have. Truth is, we really don’t know how a head coach will perform until he has a chance to be one.
He has checked every box: accomplished NFL player, successful NFL assistant coach, and having worked in one of the NFL’s best organizations (49ers).
Some people were born to lead, and the Texans saw this quality in him the first week on the practice field after being drafted in 2006.
Regardless of what else the Texans accomplish this offseason, getting it right on one of the four most important positions in the organization has the power to change both the perception and performance of the franchise.
Those four most important positions are, in order: owner, general manager, coach, and quarterback.
Now for the quarterback. If the Texans are able to draft Bryce Young next month, it will be the beginning of a complete rebranding of the franchise. The Texans could talk themselves into taking C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, or Will Levis.
But none of those three brings the intangibles Young brings. His height (5-foot-10) will cause some sleepless nights, but in the end, his Alabama résumé, leadership skills, throwing accuracy, and field vision simply are too much to pass up.
“I’m convinced after watching him and all the other quarterbacks on tape that he is clearly the most well-rounded, most talented quarterback,” said Lance Zierlein, NFL.com draft analyst and 97.5 FM host. “That’s from the standpoint of the important elements of being a quarterback, which oftentimes are more intangible based than physical.”
He wrestles with the size issue, saying: “He’s the smallest quarterback since Doug Flutie. And that’s 2001. For people to act like it’s not a big deal, this isn’t a video game.
“He’s going to have 320-pound guys falling on him. If you’re bigger and built more sturdy, you’re able to take those poundings a little bit more. You just have to make sure he’s well-protected and gets the ball out quickly.”
In the end, though, he’d still take him.
“You’ll see people get on board because he’s easy to get on board for,” Zierlein said. “He’s been a winner. He has an unbelievable personality. And he’s a guy who truly can be a face of the franchise.”
Considering where the Texans were two years ago when Caserio arrived, he has done a remarkable job in pretty much starting over. Now, with 11 draft picks and $42 million in salary cap room, this offseason is one of the most important in franchise history.
To remake the coaching staff and add a franchise quarterback is about as good as it gets. Questions remain about the depth and quality of Caserio’s 2022 rookie class, but it still has a chance to be excellent.
The Texans are rebranding themselves in 2024 with redesigned uniforms and possibly a different color scheme. But the rebranding actually began with the hiring of Caserio because it’s the performance on the field that’ll determine how the brand is viewed.
And the rebranding will pick up steam with the drafting of a quarterback, especially if that quarterback is Bryce Young.
“The Texans need a quarterback from a football standpoint,” Zierlein said. “But they really need a quarterback from an organizational standpoint. Having a quarterback you can believe in, that you can trust, it just gives you a level of hope that is hard to quantify.
“You maybe could take maybe a better football player on the defensive side, and it might be the right pick if everything works out the next year in terms of getting a quarterback. But the fact is, you just you never know what’s going to happen the next year. If the Texans win six games, they’re not going to be in position to draft a quarterback inside the first four picks. So it gets a lot harder. Right now, they’re in position to draft a quarterback and not kick the can down the road.”
The Chicago Bears are shopping the first overall pick in the draft, meaning that Young could go there. Zierlein is convinced Young will be there at No. 2, and that it’s the right move for the Texans. He’s not as sold on any of the other top quarterbacks in this draft.
“What you can’t do is draft a quarterback you don’t believe in,” he said. “Because if you do that, and you get it wrong, you set yourself back a minimum of three years.”
That’s why there’ll be some nervousness right up until the No. 1 pick is announced on April 27. In his latest mock draft, Zierlein has the Bears keeping the No. 1 pick and taking Alabama pass-rusher Will Anderson Jr. That scenario slots Young nicely into NRG Stadium.
“Young is the quarterback with the best poise, fewest concerns, and most ‘face of the franchise’ personality,” Zierlein writes. “He’ll fit in perfectly with the Texans.”