The Davis Mills-to-Jordan Akins fourth-and-20 touchdown connection may go down as one of the more impactful plays in Texans history. That Week 18 sequence, which led to the Texans falling out of the No. 1 draft slot, ended up allowing the Panthers access to Bryce Young, a player by most accounts Houston would have taken if given the opportunity.
While the Texans attempted to trade up to No. 1 with the Bears, the team settling on a second-best quarterback option continues to look unlikely at No. 2. Houston going with either Will Anderson Jr. or Tyree Wilson is the more likely scenario compared to the team selecting C.J. Stroud at that spot, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 notes.
The team brought Stroud in for a pre-draft visit, attended the Ohio State prospect’s pro day, interviewed him at the Combine and, per Wilson, has spent time considering how it would obtain a quarterback after passing on one at No. 2. But the Texans drafting Stroud would be a “major surprise” at this point, according to Wilson.
Momentum has headed in this direction for weeks, with Stroud falling from potential Panthers pick at No. 1 to a player with an uncertain destination. The Texans obviously have a quarterback need, and while Wilson adds the team’s past with David Mulugheta — Deshaun Watson‘s agent and Stroud’s representative — will not determine the team’s stance on Stroud, the ex-Buckeyes starter appears likely to remain on the board at No. 3 overall. As should be expected, GM Nick Caserio (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter) doubled down on Stroud’s agent not being part of the team’s decision-making.
Regarding Stroud’s potential landing spot, Wilson adds the Titans — via a trade-up with the Cardinals at No. 3 — are rumored to be exploring a move up to select him. Peter Schrager’s NFL.com mock draft projects the Titans to make that move as well.
The Titans have been viewed as Stroud fans for a bit now, and Schrager cites Mike Vrabel‘s relationship with Ohio State HC Ryan Day as one that helps Justin Fields‘ Buckeyes successor here. Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds is also believed to back Stroud, which could well lead to the Cardinals having a taker for a trade-up, as Indianapolis holds the No. 4 overall pick tonight. The Titans were mentioned weeks ago as having explored a trade into the No. 3 position; this appears to be a realistic scenario. Though, it probably will not take place until the Texans make their choice at 2.
The Texans are not expected to select Will Levis or Anthony Richardson at 2; the Texans did not host the Florida prospect on a visit. The team does have high opinion of Hendon Hooker, per Wilson, but the Tennessee prospect does not appear to be in the team’s first-round plans at either No. 2 or No. 12. The Vikings, who hold the No. 23 overall pick, have been mentioned as a potential Hooker destination. The two-year Volunteers starter, who suffered an ACL tear in November, expects to be cleared by Week 1.
An Anderson-or-Wilson decision looks to be where Houston’s process concludes. Mentioned as being open to trading down, the Texans are not expected to do so, Aaron Wilson adds. Questions about Anderson’s ceiling remain a factor here, per Aaron Wilson, who lends more credence to Tyree Wilson as being a higher-ceiling player (and a prospect who, at 271 pounds, would better fit DeMeco Ryans‘ 4-3 scheme compared to Anderson, at 253). The Texans are believed to have cleared the Texas Tech prospect, who suffered a Lisfranc fracture late in the Red Raiders’ season. Schrager mocks Anderson, whom a GM calls the “safest pick in the draft,” to Houston.