Former Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith gave his now-former franchise a kick in the gut on his way out the door. By beating the Indianapolis Colts in Week 18, the Texans lost out on the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Chicago Bears. However, Houston will still dictate the top of the draft in April, with two picks in the top 12 (thanks to the Deshaun Watson trade with the Cleveland Browns). The Texans’ draft strategy will be to take a future franchise quarterback with the Texans’ No. 2 pick and get that player some help at No. 12. With that in mind, here is why the Texans should consider Quentin Johnston from TCU and Peter Skoronski from Northwestern at No. 12 and why they shouldn’t consider anyone else but Alabama QB Bryce Young at No. 2.

Texans No. 2 pick: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Just because the Texans don’t have the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft doesn’t mean they can’t get the top QB. It actually means they should do anything necessary to get the top signal-caller in the draft.

In a perfect world, the Bears take the best non-quarterback on the board, with Justin Fields already in place, and the Texans get the most NFL-ready passer, Alabama QB Bryce Young.

Young put up 3,328 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, and just 5 interceptions in 2022, and that’s after winning the Heisman Trophy the season before. Yes, Young is listed at 6 feet and 194 pounds, which is smaller and slighter than nearly every successful NFL quarterback in the league right now.

That said, Young survived the SEC — which is basically just the NFL’s JV teams — just fine, so his quick release, pocket awareness, and fast feet will keep him out of trouble at the pro level, too.

Young has fewer question marks than CJ Stroud of Ohio State, Will Levis of Kentucky, or any other QB that pops into the discussion during the pre-draft process. Even if it means trading up one spot with the Bears, Bryce Young is the only player the franchise should consider with the Texans’ No. 2 pick in 2023.

No. 12 pick: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

With Bryce Young in place, the Texans’ draft strategy can go one of two ways. The best thing to do to support the new QB is to either draft him a weapon to throw to on the outside or a big left tackle to protect his blindside.

Option A for the No. 12 pick means taking TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston.

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At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, and speed to burn, Johnston has all the makings of a go-to WR 1 at the NFL level. This season with the Horned Frogs, the pass-catcher put up 60 catches for 1,069 yards and six touchdowns.

A rookie QB needs a lot of things on his offense, but not much helps like a great receiver. Just look at how Kenny Pickett and George Pickens gelled on the Pittsburgh Steelers this year, and you can see the wisdom of drafting both positions high in the same draft.

Young will be able to throw the ball up to Johnston when he gets in trouble and that’s a huge bonus for a young signal-caller.

No. 12 pick: Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

Instead of throwing it up when he gets in trouble, though, Bryce Young could just not get in trouble if the Texans draft a different way.

With the Texans’ No. 2 pick in the building, if the team doesn’t go WR at No. 12 in the 2023 NFL Draft, it should draft the best left tackle on the board. Right now, that looks like Northwestern lineman Peter Skoronski.

As the pre-draft process plays out, it is a two-man race for best offensive tackle in the draft. On one side, you have Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr., and on the other, Skoronski. We won’t know which one is the better NFL prospect until after the combine, but right now, Skoronski looks like the pick.

Johnson played guard up until this season for the Buckeyes, so he may have a versatility edge. However, if you are looking for a true bookend — which the Texans are — Skoronski is the man. He allowed just three sacks in 33 starts at Northwestern and is elite in just about every run and pass-blocking category.

Drafting a wide receiver for Bryce Young isn’t a bad idea, but the safe option is to get him a left tackle at No. 12. And a tackle like Skoronski can stay with Young for his entire career and maybe even stay with the Houston Texans franchise for longer than that.