HOUSTON — The Houston Texans are in the middle of interviewing candidates for their vacant head coach position. But once the Texans hire their sixth Coach in franchise history, it will be time for the organization to turn its attention to the draft.
ESPN released its first of several mock drafts Wednesday morning. And with the No. 2 pick, the Texans selected quarterback CJ Stroud from Ohio State.
Houston just fired Coach Lovie Smith, and the franchise’s clear offseason priority has to be upgrading at the quarterback position. Davis Mills really struggled in his second season as the Texans’ offense was among the league’s worst in several statistical categories. With two top-12 picks in this draft, they have to get quality starters as they continue their rebuild.
I see Stroud as the best fit here as the Texans could get their pick of the top passers. He’s extremely accurate, can make every throw and has excellent touch at every level of the field. I usually don’t put much stock into a single game evaluation, but Stroud’s performance in the narrow loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals showed me something. He was Spectacular against an elite defense, carving up the Bulldogs with his arm and using his legs to maneuver the pocket and find receivers. Houston still has several needs, but it should start with Stroud. I have Stroud just Barely behind Will Levis (Kentucky) and Bryce Young (Alabama) in my rankings, but it’s going to be a close race through April.
Stroud was the first quarterback taken in Kiper’s mock, and he was the second prospect taken after the Chicago Bears selected defensive tackle Jalen Carter from Georgia.
The mock selection of Stroud would give general manager Nick Caserio his ideal quarterback based on his stature. He is 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and has the frame to endure the physicality of the NFL.
After an exceptional 2022 campaign, Stroud finished his college career throwing for 8,123 yards while completing 69.3 percent of his passes for 85 touchdowns and a dozen interceptions.
For the Texans’ second pick, Kiper has Caserio and company electing to go the way of defense, picking Iowa defensive lineman, Lukas Van Ness, with the No. 12 picks.
I gave the Texans their quarterback of the future with the No. 2 pick, and general manager Nick Caserio should go with the best prospect on his board with this selection, which was acquired in the Deshaun Watson trade. Don’t get picky and try to plug a hole — this roster has to improve in several spots. Van Ness is a versatile and productive defender who made an impact at end and tackle for the Hawkeyes, even as he never actually started a game. He had 13.5 sacks over the past two seasons, 9.5 from the interior and four from the edge. NFL teams covet that sort of positional flexibility. They would get lots of early snaps for Houston.
Van Ness is a versatile defender who can play both outside and inside in an area in which the Texans desperately need to improve going forward.
With that said, if things go Kiper’s way and Caserio gets his quarterback of the future and a defensive line anchor, the Texans franchise could get put back on the fast track to improvement.
You can follow Coty M. Davis on Twitter at @CotyDavis_24
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