With the hype, uncertainty and anticipation heating up ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft, we continue our NFL draft odds series with a prediction and pick for who the Houston Texans will select with the No. 2 and No. 12 overall picks.
The Texans made some savvy moves in free agency, but they still have a plethora of pressing needs to address, including a center, a true No. 1 wide receiver, a difference-making edge rusher, and most importantly, a franchise quarterback. It’s a good thing they’re flushed with draft capital — tied for the most draft picks with Las Vegas and the only team with five picks in the top 75.
Below, we’ll break down and predict who the Texans will draft with their pair of first round picks.
Here are the 2023 NFL Draft odds for the Texans’ first two picks, courtesy of FanDuel.
Potential options for Texans to draft with No. 2 pick
C.J. Stroud: Assuming Bryce Young is taken by the Panthers with the top pick (he’s now a massive -20000 favorite), the Texans should turn their attention to the next-best prospect at the most important position. Texans GM Nick Caserio says the fact that Stroud’s represented by David Mulugheta, the agent who represents Deshaun Watson, will not be a factor in their decision.
Drawing comparisons to the likes of Dak Prescott, Jared Goff and Joe Burrow, Stroud is a pro-ready prospect with sufficient mobility and the desired size, arm strength, pocket movement and pinpoint ball placement to be a true franchise quarterback. Despite the narrative about his S2 cognitive test score, Stroud also boasts an impressive football IQ, can work through his progressions and deliver extremely accurate throws that allow his receivers to catch in stride and keep rolling.
Earlier this evening, Stroud was third in the betting odds to be the Texans’ pick, before skyrocketing to a massive favorite to go No. 2, with odds now sitting at -6000.
Will Anderson Jr.: Anderson is a strong, athletic and instinctive edge-setter and outstanding run defender with eye-popping production (including 34.5 sacks) at Alabama. Nicknamed “The Terminator,” Anderson also possesses impressive body control, torque and closing burst off the edge.
Nevertheless, there are questions about how his game translates to the next level, given his missed tackle rate, lack of bend and less-than-ideal explosiveness and suddenness for an edge defender of his size (6-3, 253 pounds). He also struggled against top-end competition, especially Tennessee OT Darnell Wright, and seems to be better suited for a 3-4 scheme, where he can allow his length to overcome his size deficiencies at the point of attack.
Tyree Wilson: Briefly the front-runner to be the No. 2 pick within the last week, Wilson’s odds have dropped considerably as the rumors and speculation’s run rampant about Houston’s supposed draft strategy. At 6-6, 271 pounds with a massive wingspan, Wilson has the physical traits to be an elite edge defender if he improves his hand usage and continues to grow into his frame.
With that said, he’s on the older side, is coming off a foot injury, and he hasn’t consistently shown the dominant, game-wrecking skills to be worth the investment for a team in desperate need of a franchise quarterback.
Potential Options for Texans to Draft with Pick 12
Jaxon Smith-Njigba: Despite missing most of last season with a nagging hamstring injury, Smith-Njigba is fully expected to be the top wide receiver off the board, with the Packers and Texans leading as his most likely landing spots. As pointed out by Ian Hartitz, Smith-Njigba went nuclear in his last five fully healthy games with the Buckeyes, hauling in a combined 60 receptions for 958 yards and six touchdowns against top-notch competition.
There are questions about his ability to win consistently down the field with below-average top-end speed and whether he’ll be able to operate on the outside with success, given he played from the slot over 83 percent of the time at Ohio State. But the 6-1, 196-pound acrobatic catch artist exudes exceptional short-area quickness, elite body control and has a PHD in route running. If the Texans take Stroud and JSN is available at 12, it’s tough not to see him reuniting with Stroud in Houston.
Bijan Robinson: Widely regarded as the top running back prospect since Saquon Barkley in 2018, Robinson looks the part as a complete, three-down back that can excel in any scheme at the next level. While he’s not always going to be the fastest guy on the field, he operates with exceptional vision, power, and breakaway speed.
While his receiving production didn’t stand out on paper, his pass-catching skills certainly stood out on film. He has an incredibly smooth running style, and he has drawn several comparisons to Hall of Famer Edgerrin James. He would be seen by some as more of a luxury pick if he went to the Texans, but there’s no question he’s an elite talent and immediate impact prospect in this draft class.
Zay Flowers: One of my favorite prospects in this year’s class at any position, Flowers had some frustrating drops in college and isn’t a finished product as a route runner (though he shows flashes of brilliance), but he possesses strong ball skills with top-end speed. The 5-9, 182-pound receiver plays bigger than his size and posted an impressive 58.3 percent contested catch rate despite being keyed in on by opposing defenses as the primary playmaker at Boston College.
Drawing comparisons to the likes of Antonio Brown, Percy Harvin and Steve Smith Sr. (from the man himself), Flowers also boasts tremendous balance and body control and is incredibly dynamite after the catch. He plays with a high level of energy, confidence and versatility and is already calling his shot at the next level, asking the Chiefs trade up to get him.
It’s worth noting that all selections will be void if the Texans trade out of either pick.
Final Texans Selection With Picks 2 & 12 Prediction and Pick
While Will Levis was also briefly the favorite to be the No. 2 overall pick, that has changed drastically over the last couple of days as the Texans are reportedly down to three options. While it wouldn’t shock anyone at this point if the Texans went with one of their coveted edge rushers to overhaul a defensive line that was led by 34-year-old Jerry Hughes last year, it just makes too much sense that the team will take its franchise quarterback and avoid having to face him twice a year against division rivals Indianapolis (No. 4 pick) and Tennessee (No. 11 pick), who is considering moving up for one of the top quarterbacks. That’s why the odds are trending hard toward Stroud as the draft nears.
Assuming he’s still available at No. 12, it’s tough to envision the Texans not pairing Stroud up with his college receiver in JSN, joining a growing trend around the league (see: Tagovailoa-Waddle in Miami, Burrow-Chase in Cincinnati, Hurts-Smith in Philly, and however briefly, Carr-Adams in Vegas). If he’s off the board, look for the Texans to roll the dice on Zay Flowers or trade back and still land one of the top edge rushers, such as Myles Murphy or Lukas Van Ness.
Final Texans Selection With Picks 2 & 12 Prediction and Pick: C.J. Stroud & Jaxon Smith-Njigba