The Houston Texans are widely expected to draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. Houston will presumably choose one of Bryce Young, Will Levis, Anthony Richardson, or C.J. Stroud. That much is known.
The Texans held discussions about acquiring the top overall selection from the Chicago Bears, according to a new report from ProFootballTalk’s Peter King. The Texans ultimately failed to seal the deal. Instead, the Bears sent the pick to the Carolina Panthers in a blockbuster trade that included superstar wide receiver D.J. Moore going back to Chicago. The Texans made a mistake by not acquiring the No. 1 overall selection.
Chicago’s preference to trade the No. 1 pick was the worst-kept secret in football. The Bears already roster a franchise quarterback in Justin Fields and possessed holes elsewhere. Chicago will utilize the additional draft capital to appropriately fill other needs. By failing to complete a trade with Chicago, Texans general manager Nick Caserio allowed the quarterback-needy Panthers to leapfrog him in the draft order.
Panthers first-year head coach Frank Reich will now have a say in drafting his top-ranked quarterback. By passing over Houston, Carolina ensures they’ll draft their hand-selected quarterback of the future. It’s a privilege the Texans forfeited by allowing a more aggressive Panthers team to complete the trade with Chicago.
Drafting a quarterback is a massive decision. The Texans certainly would have preferred to have their pick of the litter, especially after potential free-agent target Jimmy Garoppolo signed with the Las Vegas Raiders. Moving from No. 2 to No. 1 wouldn’t have been particularly expensive. The Texans appeared unwilling to part with capital, paving the way for Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer to make Bears GM Ryan Poles an offer he couldn’t refuse.
It’s worth acknowledging the Texans may still draft their preferred quarterback. Houston’s scouting department and Carolina’s scouting department may hold differing opinions regarding this year’s quarterback class. There isn’t a clear-cut winner at the top after all. But the alternative is equally as possible, a worst-case scenario that sees Houston forced to settle for their second choice. That’s never ideal.
The Texans are now tasked with sorting through alternative options. New head coach DeMeco Ryans and offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik will be involved in the process. Clarity on which signal-caller Carolina prefers at No. 1 would be ideal, but no such conclusion has been revealed. Is it Stroud, Richardson, Young, or Levis for Carolina?
Ryans and Slowik worked alongside the offensive-minded Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. Slowik is expected to run a similar variation of the zone-based offense in Houston. Shanahan’s offense is a QB-friendly system that places emphasis on anticipation, accuracy, and timing. Young and Stroud are the top two quarterbacks in this class that possess those traits. They’re also the leading candidates to be selected by Carolina at No. 1.
Coming to terms with the fact that Carolina may draft the quarterback Houston already envisioned as a Texan is an unfortunate side effect. Houston’s passive aggressiveness may have cost them a premier opportunity. Time will reveal the results.
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