The Houston Texans missed out on the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft after beating the Indianapolis Colts in Week 18. While the Carolina Panthers are now shopping the top pick, days after acquiring it, Houston might not engage in a bidding war.
Houston finds itself in a unique position in the NFL Draft. There is no consensus top quarterback prospect, with teams divided on Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson atop their positional rankings.
Related: Houston Texans draft picks 2023
Houston made it clear to coaching candidates before hiring DeMeco Ryans that it planned to use a first-round pick on a quarterback. While the Texans are currently in a spot where Carolina could make the decision for them, many around the NFL believe the Texans are fine with that.
Mike Sando of The Athletic previewed the top-10 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft with general managers and executives. Discussing Houston, multiple executives stated their belief that Houston won’t trade up for the first pick. One even stated that he thinks the Texans might hope a quarterback falls to them at No. 12 overall.
The latest NFL Draft rumors indicate that Stroud is the early favorite to be the first pick. While there remains some internal division within the Panthers’ front office about which quarterback is preferred, the Ohio State star seems to be atop the team’s draft board in March.
If that’s the case, Houston can draft Young without having to sacrifice any additional picks required to trade up and secure him. Stroud and Young are very close in Sportsnaut’s 2023 NFL Draft quarterback rankings, with either player capable of becoming a franchise quarterback.
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Houston is already creating the foundation to help its rookie quarterback succeed. The Texans acquired offensive guard Shaq Mason from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, signed wide receiver Robert Woods and they might keep left tackle Laremy Tunsil to ensure the face of the franchise is protected inside the pocket.
Ultimately, the league-wide expectation is that the Panthers and Texans will stay put with Stroud and Young coming off the board with back-to-back picks. If that happens, the intrigue for the 2023 NFL Draft starts with the Arizona Cardinals at the third overall selection.