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Friday, January 27, 2023

NFL mock draft from ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has CJ Stroud to Texans

NFL Mock Draft season is in full swing now that we’re getting closer to the Super Bowl and a bunch of teams have started their offseasons (the 2023 draft order is mostly set).

Our Christian D’Andrea had the Texans taking Bryce Young in his latest mock draft as the first QB off the board, but the Alabama quarterback wasn’t the first one taken by Houston in Mel Kiper’s first ESPN NFL mock draft of the year.

Instead, it’s C.J. Stroud from Ohio State, which is intriguing after he threw 41 touchdowns last season for the Buckeyes. What was his reasoning to put Stroud over Young and Kentucky’s Will Levis? Here you go:

Houston just fired coach Lovie Smith, and the franchise’s clear offseason priority has to be upgrading at the quarterback position. Davis Mills really struggled in his second season as the Texans’ offense was among the league’s worst in several statistical categories. With two top-12 picks in this draft, they have to get quality starters as they continue their rebuild.

I see Stroud as the best fit here as the Texans could get their pick of the top passers. He’s extremely accurate, can make every throw and has excellent touch at every level of the field. I usually don’t put much stock into a single game evaluation, but Stroud’s performance in the narrow loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals showed me something. He was spectacular against an elite defense, carving up the Bulldogs with his arm and using his legs to maneuver the pocket and find receivers. Houston still has several needs, but it should start with Stroud. I have Stroud just barely behind Will Levis (Kentucky) and Bryce Young (Alabama) in my rankings, but it’s going to be a close race through April.

There you have it! Very intriguing. Kiper also has Young going to the Colts at No. 4 and Levis to … the Seahawks at No. 5!

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