For an organization in need of a breath of fresh air, the Houston Texans sit in a spot to make a massive franchise change come April. The favorites for the top overall selection with a 1-11-1 mark through 14 weeks, the experiment of Davis Mills at quarterback has run its course and fresh legs are desperately needed for whoever calls the shots next year.
Luckily for the Texans, the 2023 NFL Draft class should have an answer. With talent in abundance under center, let’s dive into the options general manager Nick Caserio could take to open up the draft in a few months’ time, and who he should ultimately select with all things considered.
Bryce Young, Alabama
The Crimson Tide was battered and bruised this year, but Young, the 2021 Heisman trophy winner, consistently pulled rabbits out of his hat to keep Nick Saban’s group competitive.
While his height (5-foot-11) will continue to raise concerns about his performance ceiling on Sundays, Young is a flat-out gamer who is one of the most intelligent, accurate, and competitive prospects in the entire class.
Young is a legit gamechanger, and while every scout is looking for the next Patrick Mahomes, Young’s knack for making something out of nothing and the toughness to consistently make plays within the chaos of the pocket and outside of structure will see him succeed from the moment he suits up.
While his days with Jameson Williams and John Metchie III last fall made it easy at times to sit back and play catch, the inability of Alabama’s wideouts to create separation this year provided a clear window into who Young will be when things aren’t perfect around him. The Texans added young pieces on offense with running back Dameon Pierce, wideout Nico Collins, and guard Kenyon Green, but it takes time, and Young could very easily be the long-term answer for Caserio down the line. Plus, a reunion with Metchie III will only help.
C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
Stroud may be the most gifted passer in the entire country. He’s a big, strong kid that looks all the part of a top-five pick and the future face of the franchise. However, only some things have been perfect for the Buckeyes’ gunslinger.
Mechanically, he gets lazy at times, and while Young had his fair share of talent to work with in Tuscaloosa, it’s been no comparison to the pass-catchers Stroud has had at his disposal the last few years—which makes his job just that much easier each week. With 2022 first-rounders Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, a potential day-one selection this spring in Jaxon Smith-Njigba, five-star prospects Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming, and a talent you’ve probably heard of in Marvin Harrison Jr., some may argue Stroud has it easy. And while it’s not his fault that he’s had such a deep arsenal of athletes to work with, microscoping his game into a place like Houston where the atmosphere isn’t comparable to the surroundings in Columbus, I would pass on Stroud if I’m turning in the evenings first draft card.
Will Levis, Kentucky
There won’t be any comparisons to the likes of Josh Allen—whom Levis has been linked to too often from strictly a ‘tools’ perspective—made here. Levis remains one of the biggest question marks in the entire class. The ceiling, well, is limitless. The floor… turn on any of his games in the last month of the campaign. It’s a lot of give and take, but the biggest thing to remember is the success he’s had behind a battered front five and with an extremely young wide receiver corps.
It’s not easy to win in the SEC, and expectations reached astronomical levels following the Wildcats’ win in The Swamp over Florida in Week 2, but it’s going to take time for Levis before he evolves into the dynamic true dual threat talent he could be. Moving forward, I would like to see him involve his legs more as a physical athlete behind a strong lower half. He isn’t a burner by any means, but expanding his skill set will only make things easier at the next level when things begin to go wrong around him—a common theme in Houston.
Anthony Richardson, Florida
I really like Richardson, but I don’t think the Texans the spot for him considering the situation. Oftentimes, it is all about the situation players are drafted into, and while I do think he could be one of the top players from this class five years down the road, Houston needs someone ready today. It’s not to say he can’t compete, but I look forward to his development as a passer that will allow him to reach his performance ceiling.
Richardson leads by example, is dedicated to his craft, and wherever he lands, will provide an energy and unique dynamic to the offensive playbook—his game fits the modern offensive trends of the NFL. While there are concerns about his accuracy and processing ability, improvement comes with snaps and I believe he will put in the time to become a high-level talent on Sundays.
Who Should Texans Take At No. 1?
For me, it’s Bryce Young. You can keep your height concerns and whatever knocks you have on his game, he’s led by example as the best player on the field in his last two years of football and has a game that a locker room will rally around from day one. 2022 told me a lot about his game when things went south in Tuscaloosa, and his ability to shoulder the load week to week is a talent worth using the top overall pick on. He’s a culture changer and someone that Houston can feel comfortable with through the trials and tribulations of their rebuild. He’d be a massive piece to the puzzle.