Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jay LaPrete/AP/Shutterstock (13398333b) Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud would look good in a Texans uniform.
Texans Draft 2023: First Round Targets- Post Super Bowl 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 Houston Texans draft position locked in, we will continue to update this target list periodically until April, when we will again resume weekly updates with multiple updates on draft week.
The Houston Texans hold the second and 12th overall picks in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Second Overall Pick: This pick has been between quarterback Bryce Young of Alabama and C.J. Stroud of Ohio State all season long. None of that has changed; the Texans are still going QB at Pick 2.
According to a report from ESPN.com’s DJ Bien-Aime, the Texans told coaching candidates during the interview process that they intend to take a quarterback with the number 2 pick. Stroud and Young have been the top two quarterbacks all season long, and that is not expected to change as the team’s coaching staff do deeper dives into player tape and backgrounds between now and the draft day.
There are still heavy rumors that the Indianapolis Colts intend to trade up to the top of the draft to select a quarterback. It should be noted that when the Colts introduced Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive coordinator Shane Steichen as their new head coach Tuesday, Colts owner Jim Irsay also took the time to speak on the team’s quarterback situation.
“The Alabama guy doesn’t look bad; I’ll tell ya,” Irsay quipped, fueling speculation that Young would be the team’s target if they pull off the trade to move to the top of the draft with the Chicago Bears.
“Shane had a lot of that offense magic, which is hard to find in this league,” Irsay added regarding his new head coach. “Offense, in my mind, can be a little more complex and takes a little bit more time to develop, so knowing we’re gonna have to find a young quarterback to develop, that’s a key factor.”
Colts general manager Chris Ballard is on record that if there is a quarterback he believes is the guy in this draft, he would make sure he got that player, previously saying, “I’d do whatever it takes. If we thought there’s a player that we’re driven to get, that makes the franchise and the team better, that’s what we do.”
All season long, the lean here has been that the Texans would draft C.J. Stroud. With all the smoke around a Colts deal and the idea that Young is their target, the lean toward Stroud is getting stronger.
Young and Stroud are both worthy of the top overall pick. There is no need for the Texans to overthink this and foolishly get bluffed into giving up multiple significant assets to move up one spot. The smart move is to keep their assets (which they desperately need to select more top young players) and take the other top QB not selected.
The pick: C.J. Stroud – Ohio State.
Twelfth Overall Pick: Players previously discussed in this section include:
Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Notre Dame DE Isaiah Foskey, TCU WR Quentin Johnston, Texas Tech DE Tyree Wilson, Northwestern OT Peter Skoronski, USC WR Jordan Addison, Clemson DE Myles Murphy, Clemson DT Bryan Bresee.
Houston has needs all over the roster, but their most glaring needs are on the offensive line, defensive line, and wide receiver. Part of the selection process here is that, when you get to twelve, is it a choice between the third or fourth best player at position A versus the best player at position B. As stocks rise and fall between now and the draft, some of the players considered could be moving up and not available, others could be falling down and no longer the most attractive pick at that spot.
Considering the Texans intend to draft a young quarterback at 2, they need to do two things, protect him and give him weapons.
Last season, the Texans got excellent pass protection from their two tackles, Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard. However, both of those players are entering the final years of their deals. Tunsil wants to reset the market with a record contract for tackles. Howard wants to get paid but isn’t locked in on a record contract. It is likely that this will be the last season Howard and Tunsil are teammates in Houston.
With that said, Peter Skoronski is most often cited as the top offensive lineman in the draft. Skoronski is a tackle who dominated in the Big Ten. He shows terrific technique and balance, but his arms may be considered a bit short by NFL standards. The NFL considers 34-inch arms the standard for offensive tackles, and Skoronski’s arm length is 33 inches. Skoronski has also shown he is versatile enough to play both inside and outside.
Skoronski could play inside at guard for a season and then either stay there while the team seeks a new tackle or move out to tackle the following season as the replacement for whichever tackle the Texans elect to let walk.
Skoronski is the second-most often mocked player to the Texans, but he’s also a player who could wind up being off the board before 12.
The Texans could also go the weapons route, as their wide receiver group is relatively weak.
Brandin Cooks is coming off one of his worst seasons as a pro and is on record for wanting to be traded. Cooks’ annoyingly cryptic tweets that he sent out the same day the Texans announced DeMeco Ryans as their new head coach indicate that nothing seems to be changing regarding Cooks wanting out of Houston. Cooks’ bloated contract and huge $18 million guaranteed salary were a major impediment to Houston dealing him at the deadline, and likely will be again in the offseason. They may be stuck with each other for at least one more season.
Nico Collins has flashed potential, but injuries are a concern. John Metchie III will be returning after missing the 2022 season with leukemia. Chris Moore is a solid fourth receiver with speed.
The team needs to get a significant impact receiver to either play opposite of Cooks or be his replacement.
Quentin Johnston is most often cited as the best WR prospect in the draft, although he has competition for that crown from Jordan Addison and Jaxon Sithm-Njigba.
Johnston is 6-4, 215 pounds; he’s an excellent route runner, he gets separation, and he has 4.4 speed. He is also an athletic freak with an 11-foot broad jump and back squats 575 pounds. His 42-inch vertical allows him to high-point passes and outreach opponents for toss-up and 50/50 balls. Scouts have compared him to Julio Jones.
Johnston is the most mocked player to the Texans, and the reasoning makes sense twofold. First, he’s a legitimate potential monster receiver. Second, if they can get an elite playmaker in Johnston, it would allow the team to divest itself of Cooks and his enormous salary without having to pay a wide receiver in free agency to replace him. Those savings could be utilized to pay both Tunsil and Howard and keep the O-line intact for their young QB.
With potentially $66 million or more in salary cap space, the Texans could shore up their interior O-line in free agency and have young players on the outside on the cheap.
USC WR Jordan Addison or Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba could be fallback options if both Skoronski and Johnston were unavailable at 12.
The Pick: Quentin Johnston – TCU.
They should take the Minnesota Center with #12. Biggest weakness is the center position