AFC South reporter
What if the Texans don’t take a quarterback with the second overall pick in the upcoming draft? And if they trade down?
This is the talk with Houston. On Monday, general manager Nick Caserio didn’t temper speculation that the Texans won’t trade on a No. 2 signal caller, saying the team has received calls about the pick and is “open to hearing.”
But what might that mean for the Texans’ thought process at No. 12 overall, their second first-rounder this year, a pick acquired in last spring’s Deshaun Watson trade?
Here are eight names to watch for Houston at pick 12:
Will LevisQB, Kentucky
Measurables: 6-foot-3, 229 pounds
2022 Stats (11 games): 65.4% completion percentage for 2,406 yards, 19 TDs, 10 INTs
If the Texans don’t take a quarterback at No. 2, Levis is a potential pick around No. 12. Of the top four players in this draft, Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Florida’s Anthony Richardson are the others . — The former Kentucky star appears to be the most likely to fall into that range.
Consistency and accuracy were issues for Levis last season, but keep in mind he had a much weaker supporting cast than in 2021. He has an NFL-ready frame and toughness, along with mobility and a cannon arm.
Jaxon Smith-NjigbaWR, Ohio State
Measurables: 6-foot-1, 196 pounds
2022 Stats (3 games): 5 receptions for 43 yards
Houston bulked up its offensive cast this offseason to support a potential rookie quarterback, but the team still needs a No. 1 receiver. Smith-Njigba has the upside to become one.
He only played a few games last season due to injury, but had 95 receptions for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021. In fact, JSN was the most productive receiver on a team in the state of Ohio that also featured 2022 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson, Saints star Chris Olave and projected 2024 first-round pick Marvin Harrison Jr. Smith-Njiba is a great talent out of the slot with crafty running skills.
Joel Klatt’s Top 50 Players in the 2023 NFL Draft
Joel Klatt reveals his top 50 players 2.0 for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Zay FlowersWR, Boston College
Measurables: 5-foot-9, 182 pounds
2022 stats (12 games): 78 receptions for 1,077 yards, 12 TDs
Another reception option for jeans.
Flowers is on the smaller side, but he’s a dynamic, shifty playmaker who could play multiple receiver spots and return punts. He could be an ideal fit in offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik’s West Coast system as he was given a big move in Boston College’s offense.
Flowers in 2022 set the Boston College single-season record for receiving touchdowns (12), which tied for fifth in the FBS.
Lukas Van NessFROM, Iowa
Measurables: 6-foot-5, 272 pounds
2022 stats (13 games): 38 tackles (11 for loss), 6.5 sacks
The Texans need help on the interior defensive line and a top pass rusher. They had the worst defense in franchise history last season, while neither Jerry Hughes nor Jonathan Greenard are true No. 1 running backs. In 2022, Hughes, Houston’s sack leader, will be 35 years old august Greenard had just eight games last season and hasn’t played more than 13 games in a season since entering the league in 2020.
Van Ness fills both of Houston’s needs as he played inside and outside at Iowa. He had 19.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks over the last two seasons for the Hawkeyes.
Myles MurphyFROM, Clemson
Measurable; 6-foot-5, 268 pounds
2022 stats (13 games): 45 tackles (11 for loss), 6.5 sacks, 3 PBU, 1 FF
Murphy’s production and playmaking at Clemson show he could make an immediate impact with the Texans. He was a three-year starter for the Tigers, posting double-digit tackles for loss each season and 17.5 career sacks.
Murphy also had six forced fumbles and five pass breakups during his college career.
Calijah KanceyDT, Pittsburgh
Measurables: 6-foot-1, 281 pounds
2022 stats (11 games): 31 tackles (14.5 for loss), 7.5 sacks
The first half of the first round might be a bit high for Kancey, based on draft projections, but he’s the type of player the Texans could target in the late first round if they traded up from No. 12.
Houston needs a long-term defensive tackle to pair with Maliek Collins, and Kancey is an option. A small but explosive interior defensive lineman, he is the best player at his position in this draft class not named Jalen Carter. Kancey was a first-team All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year last season.
Joey Porter Jr.CB, Penn State
Measurables: 6-foot-2, 193 pounds
2022 stats (10 games): 27 tackles, 11 PBU
Cornerback isn’t the Texans’ biggest need, but with Steven Nelson entering his age-30 season and set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2024, Houston could be looking for a long-term option to pair with Derek Stingley Jr.
Porter comes from NFL pedigree as his father played 13 seasons in the league. According to Pro Football Focus, the younger Porter did not allow a touchdown in 275 coverage snaps in 2022.
Jordan AddisonWR, USC
Measurable; 5-foot-11, 173 pounds
2022 Stats (11 games): 59 receptions for 875 yards, 8 TDs
Addison, a 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner at Pitt, is a versatile wide receiver who could be an instant, high-impact contributor for the Texans. He lacks ideal size, but is a crafty runner and can work all areas of the field.
Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for SeattlePI.com for three seasons (2018-20) before moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.
FOX Sports Top Stories:
Get more from the National Football League Follow your favorites for information on games, news and more