Texans Draft 2023: First Round Targets: End of Regular Season Update

Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws a pass during the second half of the Peach Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Ohio State lost 42-41. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch Ncaa Football Peach Bowl Ohio State At Georgia

Texans Draft 2023: First Round Targets: End of Regular Season Update

Each week during the regular season, we have updated the Houston Texans’ draft position in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft and assessed possible draft targets. With the 2022 regular season behind us and the Texans draft position locked in, we will continue these draft updates periodically until April, when we will again resume weekly updates with multiple updates on draft week.

Following the Texans’ Week 18 victory over the Colts and the Browns’ season-ending loss to the Steelers, the Texans will hold the second pick in the draft (their own) and the 12th pick (Browns’ pick acquired in the Deshaun Watson trade). These positions are now final.

Second overall pick: Nothing actually changes here for the Texans except their right to choose. Instead of having the ability to choose between Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, they will now get whoever is still on the board at two.

Now that the Bears are in possession of the top overall pick, it is highly likely that Chicago is open for business and ready to make a deal with a quarterback-needy team. Historically, teams trading up to the top pick for a quarterback have paid massive ransoms, and the Bears could certainly use that treasure trove of picks to help rebuild their roster. Chicago already has their quarterback in Justin Fields.

The Texans’ defeat of the Colts hurt them twice. First, it removed them from the catbird seat in the draft. Second, it made it easier for the Colts to trade up as Indianapolis moved up from six to four.

Seattle and Detroit each have two first-round picks this year and could be in the market for a young quarterback after getting unexpectedly strong seasons from Geno Smith and Jared Goff. Smith is a free agent. Goff has two years remaining on his contract, but none of his money is guaranteed. Detroit can move on from Goff with a $10 million cap hit in 2023.

Considering the immense hype around Bryce Young, he is the most likely target for any team moving up to acquire the top pick. Stroud, who had a tremendous game against Georgia in the CFP semis, would almost be a guaranteed pick for the Texans if Young were off the board. That works in reverse as well.

Pick lean: C.J. Stroud.

Twelfth overall pick: Now locked into the 12 slot, the Texans have several areas of need. Defensive line, offensive line, and wide receiver all stand out.

Players previously mentioned in the spot include:

Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Notre Dame DE Isaiah Foskey, TCU WR Quentin Johnston, Texas Tech DE Tyree Wilson, Northwestern OL Peter Skoronski, USC WR Jordan Addison, Clemson DE Myles Murphy, and Clemson DT Bryan Bresee.

I sampled 19 prominent mock drafts, and only three had the Texans not taking a wide receiver. Eight had the Texans taking Johnston, five had them taking Addison, two had them taking Smith-Njigba, and one had them selecting Tennessee WR Jalin Hyatt.

There seems to be a firm belief among many in the media that Brandin Cooks will not be a Texan next season, but barring a concession by Cooks on his contract ($18 million guaranteed 2023, $13 million non-guaranteed 2024), it will be extremely difficult for Houston to move him. It doesn’t make sense for a rebuilding team to part with a draft asset to move him (although parting with a Day 3 pick to land a Day 2 pick would be understandable), nor should the Texans pay part of his salary (no more than 33% of 2023), unless there is a Day 2 pick coming back. Additionally, any trade of Cooks requires the Texans to eat nearly $16.25 million in dead cap charges. The belief here is that the team and Cooks work it out for one more year.

With Cooks in the receiver room along with Nico Collins, John Metchie III, Chris Moore, and Amari Rodgers, it wouldn’t make sense for Houston to prioritize wide receiver in the first round. While the team needs offensive line help, their tackles, Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard, both excelled in pass protection this past season. Meanwhile, their run defense was the worst in the NFL (170.2 ypg allowed) by 13 yards per game.

Bresee displays top-10 pick-level talent but may be considered a guy with durability issues that cause him to slip. Bresee played 11 games his freshman year but only four games his sophomore season before injury, allowing him to redshirt. He played 10 games this season.

With the Texans’ run defense in total disarray, an extremely physical and athletic player like Bresee in the middle of the defensive line would be an ideal fit. He can stuff the run, push the pocket, and demand double teams in the middle of the line. Already 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds, he will likely add some more muscle heading to the NFL. He also has tremendous speed (4.77) for a player his size.

For the third straight week, the pick lean here is Clemson DT Bryan Bresee.

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