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Houston Texans mock draft 2023: Building a team around C.J. Stroud

Houston Texans mock draft
Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 NFL Draft represents the line sign of hope for the Houston Texans. At a time when the organization is looked down upon by so many around the league, the only path to relevancy for Houston is by improving through the draft.

It’s not as if the Texans draft history in recent years inspires confidence. Houston drafted Derek Stingley Jr. over All-Pro cornerback Sauce Gardner and fellow 2022 first-round pick Kenyon Green was one of the worst offensive linemen in the NFL this past season. As for the 2021 NFL Draft, Houston doesn’t have a single building block it can take pride in.

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That’s precisely why the 2023 NFL Draft is so crucial for general manager Nick Caserio. With two first-round picks and five top-100 selections, limited draft capital is no longer an excuse. The Texans must come away with an outstanding 2023 draft class or face another rebuild before its current one even breaks ground.

Houston Texans draft picks 2023

Here are the Houston Texans draft picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

  • Round 1, 2nd overall
  • Round 1, 12th overall (via CLE)
  • Round 2, 33rd overall
  • Round 3, 65th overall
  • Round 3, 73rd overall (via CLE)
  • Round 4, 101st overall
  • Round 5, 133rd overall
  • Round 6, 174th overall
  • Round 6, 186th overall
  • Round 6, 192nd overall
  • Round 7, 215th overall

Related: 2023 NFL Draft order

2023 Houston Texans draft needs

Prior to NFL free agency, here are the Houston Texans draft needs in 2023.

Houston Texans mock draft: Build a team around C.J. Stroud

Sportsnaut uses Pro Football Focus’ NFL Draft simulator, which provides the flexibility to trade and work through a variety of scenarios. Let’s dive into our Texans mock draft.

1st round, 2nd overall: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State Buckeyes

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The Davis Mills experiment failed. Because of Houston’s weak roster, trading up with the Chicago Bears to secure the No. 1 pick – Bryce Young – would also be a bad investment. So, the Texans settle for a franchise quarterback who made the Georgia Bulldogs’ defense look like novices in the College Football Playoff Semifinal.

Stroud might not offer elite physical tools, but he still provides the arsenal of a franchise quarterback. He dominated opponents throwing deep (20-plus yards downfield) in 2022, per PFF, posting a 122.4 NFL QB rating with a 12-2 TD-INT line and 50.7% completion rate. When blitzed, Stroud picked defenses apart (65.7% completion rate, 9.7 ypa, 19-1 TD-INT).

He demonstrated at Ohio State that he can progress through his reads, an important box to check for him to start as a rookie. While athleticism isn’t his strength, Stroud showed tremendous pocket maneuverability vs Georgia and used it to create big plays. The ceiling might only be a top-12 NFL quarterback, but Houston could desperately use that.

1st round, 12th overall: Jordan Addison, WR, USC Trojans

NCAA Football: Southern California at UCLA
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After drafting a franchise quarterback, Houston needs to surround him with the necessary help that can allow him to be successful. As of now, there is very little on the Texans’ roster that any general manager would feel confident in as a supporting cast for a young signal-caller. Fortunately, Houston’s draft capital allows it to start changing that.

Related: Houston Texans star Brandin Cooks seeks trade in 2023

Our focus is on finding offensive weapons that will get open quickly, creating throwing windows for Stroud. Fortunately, Jordan Addison is one of the best receivers in the 2023 NFL Draft class at creating separation.

He caused plenty of havoc out of the slot in his lone season at USC, averaging 14.1 yards per catch and not dropping a single one of his 19 targets. The 6-foot wideout dominated between the hashes, catching 39 passes for 308 yards during the regular season. While most of his production came on short throws, Addison also proved to be an adept playmaker working downfield (370 yards, 2 TDs on nine receptions). He’s the ideal weapon you want to partner with Stroud.

2nd round, 33rd overall: O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida Gators

Houston Texans mock draft 2023
29. Buffalo Bills — O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida Syndication Gator Sports

While Houston won’t give up on Kenyon Green after one season, he can’t play again at left guard. During his rookie season, the 6-foot-4 lineman allowed 47 pressures with 12 penalties in only 525 pass-block snaps, per PFF. The Texans need something a lot better than that, especially if A.J. Cann regresses in his age-32 season.

Related: NFL insider believes Houston Texans could be next franchise sold

O’Cyrus Torrence will address the problems on the interior. During the 2022 season at Florida, Torrence allowed just eight pressures in 355 pass-block snaps without a single sack allowed in 11 games. He’s also a dominant run blocker, earning an elite 89.9 PFF run-blocking grade this past season. Reuniting him with Dameon Pierce could really open up the Texans’ ground game, which makes life easier for Stroud.

2nd round, 55th overall*: Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army Black Knights

NCAA Football: Navy at Army
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  • TRADE: Houston Texans trade Laremy Tunsil, 215th pick to Chicago Bears for the 55th pick, 64th overall pick and 2024 conditional third-round pick

The path to the 2023 NFL Draft is officially cleared for Andre Carter, which means he’ll become one of the highest-draft players out of the military academy in years. Standing at 6-foot-7, he is exactly the kind of player Houston needs to add to its defense.

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He boasts the frame to add significantly more muscle, which shouldn’t diminish his explosiveness off the edge. Carter finished with a phenomenal 21.4% PFF pass-rush win rate during the 2022 season, recording 17 hurries with 23 pressures in 173 pass-rush snaps.

He needs NFL coaching and the 2023 season will be the first time he gets to focus entirely on football, which elevates his ceiling. Carter would be a situational pass rusher for Houston as a rookie and could blossom into an every-down player. As for the trade itself, offloading a disgruntled Laremy Tunsil provides Houston with the picks it needs to rebuild on both sides of the ball moving forward.

3rd round, 64th overall: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota Golden Gophers

NCAA Football: Big Ten Media Days
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Look at young, successful quarterbacks in the NFL and you’ll find a quality offensive line is one of the most pivotal factors in their success. While Justin Britt played fairly well in pass protection last season, he is a replaceable player.

Seeking a viable replacement who can build chemistry with a young quarterback, John Michael Schmitz stands out. He held up well as a pass blocker at Minnesota, drawing just one penalty with five hurries allowed in 302 snaps. We also want to create running lanes for Pierce, which is where Schmitz’s elite 92.6 PFF run-blocking grade helps him pair nicely with Torrence to really elevate the Texans’ ground game.

3rd round, 65th overall: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee Volunteers

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Pittsburgh
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Once a five-star recruit, Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright went through his share of ups and downs in college. However, he really started putting it together during the 2022 season allowing just eight pressure across 507 pass-blocks snaps after surrendering 17 in 495 snaps a year prior. The flashes of his physical talent have started to help restore his draft stock and the abilities that made him a former top-10 recruit are still there. He is a pillar in pass protection and Houston needs that, especially if Tunsil is traded.

3rd round, 73rd overall: Demarvion Overshown, LB, Texas Longhorns

NCAA Football: Baylor at Texas
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This is going to be a multi-year rebuild, so the Texans might as well roll the dice on high-upside players. Demarvion Overshown is all projection, offering a 6-foot-4 fame with a level of athleticism that once allowed him to play safety. He also offers a massive wingspan, which amplifies his already massive frame as a potential defensive weapon. He needs all kinds of work as a football player, especially in defending the run, but the risk is worth the reward in Round 3.

Houston Texans 7-round mock draft 2023

Here is our full seven-round Texans mock draft.

  • 1st round, 2nd overall: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
  • 1st round, 12th overall: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
  • 2nd round, 33rd overall: O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida
  • 2nd round, 55th overall*: Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army
  • 3rd round, 64th overall*: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
  • 3rd round, 65th overall: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
  • 3rd round, 73rd overall: Demarvion Overshown, LB, Texas
  • 4th round, 101st overall: Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
  • 5th round, 133rd overall: Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee
  • 6th round, 174th overall: Ventrell Miller, LB, Florida
  • 6th round, 186th overall: Jacob Slade, DL, Michigan State
  • 6th round, 191st overall: Warren McClendon, OT, Georgia
  • 6th round, 192nd overall: Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota