The Texans have the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NFL draft, and for most of the draft season they were expected to pick a quarterback with their top pick.
However, at least one reputable NFL analyst thinks it’s possible Houston could pass on a signal caller with this pick.
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer has speculated in recent days that the Texans could opt to pick another player for No. 2 overall, though one of CJ Stroud or Bryce Young is guaranteed to be on the board.
MORE: Bryce Young skips CJ Stroud at betting odds to become No
Why would Texans do that? As Breer explained in a recent article, it’s all about the history of the Houston Brain Trust.
General Manager Nick Caserio has been in the NFL for 22 seasons. During that time, in all the drafts he’s been a part of, the highest draft his team has drafted as a quarterback was 62nd pick. That choice was Jimmy Garoppolo. Davis Mills, which the Texans ranked 66th two years ago, would be second on that list. Meanwhile, new coach DeMeco Ryans, who was at San Francisco for over six years, saw a quarterback that was taller, and the Niners came to three NFC title games with quarterbacks other than Trey Lance.
So I don’t think Caserio and Ryans are going to go for a second pick on a guy they’re not 100% excited about (maybe they’d be more open to a dice roll later in the draft). Both guys have seen teams built in different ways, and both have seen teams find quarterbacks in different ways. So if anyone is open to it, it’s these two guys.
Breer’s point is well made, although it’s worth noting that Caserio spent the first 19 years of his career in New England. The Patriots never had to worry about taking quarterbacks early thanks to Tom Brady’s presence, which might better explain Caserio’s dislike of high-drafted passers.
Still, it’s worth examining what the Texans might do with the No. 2 pick if they don’t pick a quarterback, and what signal caller they might target if Stroud or Young aren’t the choices.
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Texans draft options with No. 2 pick with no QB
If the Texans don’t pick a No. 2 quarterback, they likely face two legitimate choices. They are as follows:
Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
Anderson is considered the top pass rusher this year and is expected to become the first non-quarterback draft draft in the 2023 NFL draft. The Alabama product comes to the NFL with an arsenal of pass-rushing moves that will give him a smooth transition to the next level and should quickly become a double-digit sack threat.
Anderson played 41 games during his career with the Crimson Tide. During that time he amassed a whopping 34.5 sacks; That included his 17.5-sack campaign in 2021, which allowed him to finish fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy.
Ryans might like the idea of picking Anderson to bolster a Houston pass rush in dire need of high-profile talent. So if the Texans are going without a quarterback here, Anderson will almost certainly be the pick.
If the Texans aren’t interested in Anderson or a 2nd-ranked quarterback, trading down makes a lot of sense. There will be plenty of teams that would be happy to land either Young or Stroud, so Houston could start a bidding war over his pick and walk away with a royal ransom.
In this scenario, the Texans could miss out on some of the blue-chip defensive players at the top of the draft. However, you would still be close to landing any of the many top cornerbacks or pass-rushing talent available in it. And maybe they could get Jalen Carter — once viewed as a potential No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL draft — to land a short fall on the board.
As such, that possibility can’t be ruled out, even though taking Anderson or a quarterback seems much more likely at this point.
MORE: Colts, Titans highlight teams who could trade with Cardinals for 3rd place
When will the Texans draft a quarterback?
Interestingly, when will the Texans pick a quarterback if they pass Young or Stroud with the #2 pick. Such a decision would be less of a vote of confidence in Davis Mills, Case Keenum, or EJ Perry; It would be more about the team loving Anderson or being confident they can get another quarterback they like down the road.
Which quarterbacks could that be? Here are a handful that might be reasonable targets for the Texans outside of the #2 pick.
Will Levis, Kentucky
Levis has often been derided as a top 10 pick, but there’s a chance he’ll slip a bit on draft day. Why? Because it doesn’t seem like there’s much interest in him among the teams that pick quarterbacks for the draft.
Also, the Texans passing Stroud or Young would likely eliminate another potential Levis landing spot. As such, he could be ranked 12th overall on the board for the Texans’ pick.
If Houston rolls at No. 2 with Anderson, they can pursue Levis, a quarterback who has all the tools needed to be a successful NFL starter but just hasn’t been consistent in Kentucky. He would give the Texans a quarterback with a high floor and upside, something they haven’t had since Deshaun Watson’s holdout.
Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
If the Texans spend each of their two first-round picks on non-quarterbacks, they could try to land hooker early in the second round. Houston is No. 33 so it would be within reach for the Tennessee product even if they have to advance to the end of the first round to get him.
Coming off from a cruciate ligament rupture, Hooker will be a 25-year-old rookie so those black spots might keep him out of the first round. Still, he didn’t last long into Day 2, after recording 27 pass touchdowns and just two interceptions while leading the Volunteers to their best season in decades.
MORE: How Hendon Hooker’s age could affect him in the 2023 NFL Draft
Any other mid-round quarterback
It would honestly be a surprise if the Texans didn’t pick a quarterback with one of their first three picks. However, if they await the position, there are numerous development prospects they could target at the quarterback.
Stetson Bennett and Max Duggan were both winners, leading their teams to the 2023 College Football Playoff championship game; Malik Cunningham is an explosive athlete with a living arm who could turn into a solid starter; Dorian Thompson-Robinson has a one-armed cannon and great agility; and Tanner McKee is another Stanford quarterback who could have a good career with proper development.
Certainly the Texans aren’t short of options if they ditch a second-ranked quarterback. But they remain more likely to target Stroud or Young with their first pick, even as some smoke surrounds Breer’s speculation.