Sean Pendergast

NFL Draft Combine Begins Next Week — Four Things For Texans Fans To Watch For

Nick Caserio and DeMeco Ryans are off to Indianapolis to kick tires on the best NFL prospects.
Nick Caserio and DeMeco Ryans are off to Indianapolis to kick tires on the best NFL prospects. Photo by Jack Gorman
Since announcing the hiring of DeMeco Ryans on January 31, and then unveiling him at an introductory press conferences two days later, the Houston Texans have largely been working behind the scenes, assembling their couching staff and preparing for the 2023 NFL Draft. The only evidence and results, thus far, that we've seen of the collaboration of Nick Caserio and Ryans has been the reports of staff hires.

That changes on Monday, as the 2023 NFL Draft Combine begins in Indianapolis. As most of you know, the combine is the NFL's annual meat market, in which hundreds of former college football players are marched into Lucas Oil Stadium over a five day period, and asked to execute various drills, intelligence tests, and conversations with coaches and front office personnel.

Essentially, it's a massive, hyper specific, invite-only job fair, and this just in —- the Houston Texans have PLENTY of job openings for the job title "Professional Football Player." The combine can be a tedious watch, if your team isn't one of the main stories surrounding draft season. The Houston Texans, fortunately for people needing something to watch next week, are super relevant right now.

Here are four things to watch for, if you're a Texans fan, at the combine festivities:

Bryce Young's height and weight
The consensus across most of the mock drafts out there is that the Texans come away from this draft with Alabama's Bryce Young as their future at quarterback, and while Young is clearly the most highly regarded QB prospect of this group, he is an historic outlier in terms of his listed height (6-foot even) and weight (194 pounds), and honestly those numbers sound inflated. In short, Young's size is a personal safety liability, above all else. He could get splattered like a bug on any drop back. Young has reportedly been trying to bulk up in his pre-combine training, but his height and weight measurements will be the most anticipated vital statistics of the week.

C.J. Stroud's press conference
After Young, the number two quarterback on the board for most experts is Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud. The Texans hold the second pick in the draft, so it's important to have a good feel for not only Young, but also Stroud and what he is all about. The arm talent is undeniable, and the decision making in the pocket seems to be very good (41 touchdowns, and just six interceptions last season). My glitch with Stroud is his seemingly bland personality, as compared to the more charismatic Young. Normally, I couldn't care less about this facet of a player, but the quarterback position is different. I want some sizzle with my steak! Stroud seems lacking in sizzle.
All things Jalen Carter and Will Anderson
In trying to land Young with the second overall pick, the main exposure for the Texans is a team like the Colts or the Raiders leapfrogging them and making a trade with the Bears, who have the first overall pick and happen to have their future QB already on the roster in Justin Fields. The Bears are a prime candidate to trade out for the first spot with a QB-needy team and pick up a few extra selections down the road. Thus, the best thing for the Texans would be for the Bears to fall in love with one, and JUST one, of the top two defensive players in this draft — Georgia DT Jalen Carter or Alabama edge fisher Will Anderson. One of these two needs to show out HUGE at the combine to where the Bears don't want to risk losing out on him. I would bet on Carter being that guy.

Potential Texans prospects at 12th overall
Oh yeah, the Texans also have the 12th overall pick in the draft, thanks to the Deshaun Watson trade. Right now, the Mock Draft Database has the following players listed as the consensus 10th through 15th picks, so if you're looking for a few players to track on combine week, this is a good place to start:

10. Eagles, Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
11. Titans, Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
12. Texans, Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
13. Jets, Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
14. Patriots, Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
15. Packers, Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

For the record, I'm hoping the database is right, and the Texans end up with Johnston, the massive wide receiver out of TCU.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast