During ESPN’s three-round mock draft special with draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, the duo is taking turns making selections for NFL franchises. Along with them on the special, NFL insider Chris Mortensen is giving his insight on what he hears from teams on the mocked selections.
After Kiper selected Alabama’s Bryce Young with the top pick in the draft for the Carolina Panthers, it was McShay’s turn to pick for the Houston Texans. The NFL draft expert selected Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud with the pick but didn’t seem too confident that Houston would follow their mock scenario.
“If I’m the Texans, I’m taking CJ Stroud. But there’s a lot of buzz with this pick right now,” said McShay. “It could be a trade-out for Houston. It could be a defensive player. We’ve heard Will Anderson is the guy that they really want. We’ve heard that now, Tyree Wilson, the Texas Tech defense end, could be in the mix. So in terms of drama, the draft starts right here at number two.”
For much of the offseason leading up to the draft, it has been speculated that Young and Stroud would likely go back-to-back as the first and second selections and the 2023 NFL Draft. But as of recently, there have been rumors swirling that if Young is taken by the Panthers with the number one overall pick, the Texans would prefer to trade out of the two-spot or take a defensive star instead of Stroud. A sentiment Mortensen echoed while also providing more insight into what Houston thinks of the former Ohio State signal caller.
“What we’re hearing now doesn’t matter; it really doesn’t because you can’t trust it. Now, you might have heard two months ago… let’s say when the Panthers traded up, the number one is that everybody assumed that it was for CJ Stroud. If it’s not Stroud, the Texans are very happy with Bryce Young,” said Mortensen. “But if the Panthers do take Bryce Young as we are mocking, as everybody’s projecting, then the word has been the Texans were not in love with CJ Stroud for whatever reason. And we’ve heard Adam Schefter say recently, don’t be surprised it’s not a quarterback taken at two or three. I think that’s gotta be considered.”
As Mortensen highlighted, the noise we’re hearing now from NFL franchises does not particularly matter. Houston very well be positioning themselves to trade out of the number two overall pick. Or they could be devising a smokescreen not to tip their hand as to what quarterback they’re actually pursuing at that spot.
Currently, there are a lot of unknowns with this year’s draft. Although Kiper and McShay both are projecting Young to be selected by the Panthers with the number one overall pick, that remains to be seen. But one thing we do know for certain, the 2023 NFL Draft it’s shaping up to be an exciting one, especially at the top of the first round.
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