Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jay LaPrete/AP/Shutterstock (13398333b) Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud would look good in a Texans uniform.
Each week, we update the Houston Texans draft position in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft and assess possible draft targets.
As of Dec. 13, through 14 weeks of the NFL season, the Houston Texans currently hold the first and 12th picks in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft. The first overall pick is their own pick, and the 12th pick is the Cleveland Browns’ pick owed to Houston as part of the Deshaun Watson trade.
First overall pick: There is no change in this pick from our initial analysis two weeks ago, and maintained in last week’s column. Houston’s two-quarterback system utilized in Week 14 in Dallas only underlined the fact that the Texans will be selecting a quarterback with the first overall pick, which will be a choice between Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young of Alabama.
The hype for Bryce Young continues to build, and will likely continue as the season goes on and into the offseason. Young is a tremendously gifted athlete who can make all the throws and excels off script, but his size has to be considered a question mark.
Young is (generously?) listed at 6’0″ and 194 pounds. When comparing him to other smaller quarterbacks of recent history, his weight also must be considered and not just his height. The instant comparisons will be to Russell Wilson (5’11”, 215) and Kyler Murray (5’10”, 207).
Wilson has been remarkably durable, successfully playing through a multitude of injuries throughout his career. Wilson started all 16 games for the first nine years of his career, and 14 of 17 last season. He has played 12 of Denver’s 13 games this season. Wilson is also more athletic than most people realize, as he ran a 4.55 forty-yard dash, a 4.09 shuttle and displayed a 34-inch vertical leap. He is strong and well-built.
Murray has been a little bit of a different story. While instantly drawing comparisons to Wilson for his terrific athleticism and strong arm, Murray is not as stout as Wilson. Murray also is willing to take off running more often than Wilson, exposing himself to more hits. Kyler is very fast, and while he didn’t run at the combine, he was reported to have been clocked at 4.37 in spring practice at Oklahoma and famously nudged out teammate Andy Isabella in a 40-yard dash at practice. Isabella ran a ridiculous 4.27 at the NFL combine in 2019.
Murray has also played through some injuries in his short career, showing the toughness to fight through them. He played all 16 games in his first two seasons before being limited to 14 of 17 games a year ago. Murray played in 11 of his team’s 13 games this season before suffering a catastrophic knee injury early in Arizona’s game Monday night.
Young is presumed more likely to measure at 5’11” than 6’0″ at the combine, and his current playing weight of 194 pounds is 21 pounds lighter than Wilson and 13 less than Murray. Young would be the smallest framed quarterback in the league, playing behind a line that has been porous for the past several seasons.
Stroud, meanwhile, is a much more traditionally sized NFL quarterback at 6’3″ and 215 pounds. He is highly accurate, has a cannon arm that makes all the throws, and is very athletic despite not being the runner that Young is. Young is also clearly the faster player of the two, with an expected 4.4 speed, as opposed to Stroud’s expected 4.7 speed.
While that 0.3 may look like a huge number on this page, go to your phone and open the stopwatch part of your clock. Tap start/stop as fast as you can. You will probably land somewhere between 0.10 and 0.18 in the instant it took you to tap the button twice. You are essentially talking about two eyeblinks.
This is all part of the equation why I believe Stroud will be the Texans’ pick at No.1. Stroud is also the Vegas favorite (+200) to be taken first overall, a slight favorite over Bryce Young (+250).
Twelfth overall pick: This pick has moved from 10th to 13th and now to 12th in three weeks, and that volatility is expected to continue. The Browns will host Baltimore and New Orleans in the next two weeks before finishing the season on the road at Washington and at Pittsburgh. Deshaun Watson has looked as rusty as a 1972 Ford Pinto that has been sitting in 10-foot high grass out on a farm somewhere for forty years.
Previous players mentioned in this section include:
Ohio St 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/EDGE Myles Murphy
Much like last week’s installment, as the pick position moves, so does the potential target list. With each passing week, players seem to move up and down mock drafts throughout the country. Based on the consensus of a dozen mock drafts, some players are currently not expected to make it to 12.
Currently, Skoronski is projected as a top-10 pick and would likely be unavailable at 12, as is Murphy. Wilson is currently trending toward top-10 status, so we will remove him from the equation for the purposes of this article for the time being.
Last week, we removed two players as likely to be taken before the Texans’ selection and replaced them with two more to keep that draft pool list at five. This week, with our projected removals, our draft list is four.
As discussed last week, based on current projections, my pick here would be between wide receivers Quentin Johnston and Jordan Addison. Both players have seen their stock rise in mock drafts nationally. Johnston is still trending to be available at 12, but more and more mocks have him going in the top 10. Addison is also moving up, but he is slightly behind Johnston.
The pick is still Johnston if he is available at 12, with Addison as the fallback pick.