Would Texans actually pass on a quarterback with No. 2 pick?

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Prominent publications have flirted with the idea, even with the outrage it may seem.

NFL.com released a mock draft that featured the Texans going for a quarterback at No. 2 on a defensive player: Texas Tech running back Tyree Wilson. In that scenario, Houston used the 12th overall pick, which the team acquired in last spring’s Deshaun Watson deal, to trade up to No. 7 to take Kentucky’s Will Levis.

In the mock, the Panthers selected Alabama’s Bryce Young with the top pick.

“If the Texans lose Young, they might not be a lock [Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud]” draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote in explaining the thought process at No. 2.

Even ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Tuesday that he still wasn’t convinced the Texans will take a quarterback with the second pick, especially if Young goes to Carolina.

“My understanding is that all options are on the table,” Schefter told ESPN. “They’re not sold on taking a quarterback at No. 2.”

This could be smoke.

But this possibility for the Texans is at least worthy of consideration at this point in draft speculation. We can’t be so sure what will happen, because every year there are surprises.

Of course, we know why Houston has been assumed to take a signal caller with the second overall pick: The Texans need one, a player who can be the face of the franchise. They are in a prime position to take that quarterback. It became clear last season that Davis Mills, who struggled after an encouraging rookie season, is not the long-term answer. Young and Stroud are widely considered the top two options.

But why are so many so sure the Texans would be equally happy with Young or Stroud? Or, at the very least, enough content to take anyone other than the No. 1 overall pick?

You have to consider the potential uncertainty with the Texans’ thought process, stemming (in part) from what the Panthers decide to do. There’s also an element of unpredictability with what Houston general manager Nick Caserio might do in his third draft. With the No. 3 overall pick last year, he selected cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., considered a surprise pick because of health issues his final two seasons at LSU. In that same draft, Caserio also traded up from No. 13 to No. 15 to take Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green.

Houston, of course, won’t divulge its strategy publicly.

“I’m not going to talk specifically about what we’re doing with our draft plans,” new coach DeMeco Ryans said Tuesday when asked about the quarterback possibilities. “We’ll have to be ready to make a choice when it’s time to make a choice.”

While it’s unclear whether the Texans would move Stroud to No. 2 if Carolina takes Young, Ryans’ praise for the latter at the NFL owners meetings last month was noteworthy.

Will Bryce Young end up being the top QB in the 2023 NFL Draft?

Will Bryce Young end up being the top QB in the 2023 NFL Draft?

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With talk of Young’s size as a concern (he measured in at 5-foot-10 and 204 pounds at the NFL Combine), Ryans said he doesn’t see it as an issue, citing his performance in the SEC.

“The guy has done it at the highest level in college football and size doesn’t seem to be an issue,” Ryans said of Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner. “I don’t see it as an issue because you look at the tape, and you see the kid play, and you see how smart he is. You see the anticipation. You see the precision. You see how calm this guy is in critical moments.”

Could the Texans attempt a trade with the Panthers for the top overall pick? That can’t be completely ruled out if Houston is dead on Young (or another quarterback).

After all, the team asked about the No. 1 pick before Chicago dealt it to Carolina last month. The Panthers also didn’t trade up to No. 1 from No. 9 with a quarterback in mind, according to general manager Scott Fitterer. And when the Panthers struck a deal for the top pick, multiple reports emerged saying Carolina wasn’t ruling out a trade down. This one might still be.

But trading up to No. 1 would cost the Texans the No. 2 pick and likely at least a Day 2 pick (the Texans have the No. 33 pick this year), which is a bad deal considering they would have had the top pick if if not for beating the Colts in the final seconds of the regular season finale.

While taking a quarterback at No. 2 might be the Texans’ most likely option, and the most sensible in the court of public opinion, they could also trade up from there or move up from No. 12 to take Anthony Richardson or Levis if the Panthers take their preferred option.

In theory, the Texans could trade up from No. 2 to take a defensive player (like Alabama running back Will Anderson Jr.) and trade up from No. 12 to take their hopeful signal of the future.

The great takeaway? Don’t rule out the possibility of Houston moving on a quarterback with the second overall pick.

Not yet, at least, even as crazy as that sounds.

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.

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