If you're a Houston Texans fan, that buzz you feel about the 2023 season is probably coming from several places, but perhaps the most prominent reason for the new wave of anticipation is the team's current rookie class. Last season's rookies had some hits (Jalen Pitre, Dameon Pierce) and some misses (thus far, Kenyon Green), but early on, the 2023 class appears to have the makings of a stellar foundation.
Of course, all they've done so far is go through the spring program, one preseason game, and about a dozen or so training camp practices, but the early signs indicate that this will be a group that contributes greatly to whatever success the 2023 Houston Texans experience. Along those lines, let's do a quick status update for all of you on this rookie class.
Let's go through each of them, and give each player a designation as to where he is in his progress — AHEAD of schedule, ON schedule, and BEHIND schedule. I think you'll be excited by the end of this post. Here we go:
1/2. QB C.J. STROUD — ON SCHEDULE
Stroud is clearly the starting QB as this team heads into the season, with the rookie getting all of the reps with the first string in practice, so from that standpoint, winning the job this early, he might be ahead of schedule. That said, some days are better than others, and he is making some rookie mistakes, as expected. Right now, I'm comfortable that he is on track and don't want to get too far ahead of myself on where his progress is.
1/3. DE WILL ANDERSON — AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
Anderson has been a menace throughout the training camp practices, and did some good things in the two series he played against the Patriots. Head coach DeMeco Ryans said that Anderson gets mad when he is taken off the field in practice. The kid loves football, and he's been everything he was advertised to be, and then some.
2/62. C JUICE SCRUGGS — AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
In a perfect world, the Texans wouldn't be entering the season with a rookie quarterback taking snaps from a rookie center, but when incumbent starting center Scott Quessenberry went down with a torn ACL and MCL in practice a couple weeks ago, a perfect world went out the window. Now Scruggs is on the fast track, and thus far, he is holding his own. Starting and looking capable at this early stage is enough for the "AHEAD of schedule" designation for the second round pick.
3/69. WR TANK DELL — AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
Dell has been one of the most productive players in practice, and was THE most productive player in the win over New England. Additionally, OC Bobby Slowik said Dell's blocking, something he rarely had to do in college in an "air raid" system at U of H, has been a pleasant surprise. This looks like a tremendous selection by Nick Caserio.
4/109. DE DYLAN HORTON — ON SCHEDULE
When he's been on the field, Horton looks like a solid rotational defensive end. He's been injured the last several days, and missed the New England game, but was back on Sunday and again looked very capable. For a fourth round pick, that's very much on schedule, if not ahead.
5/167. ILB HENRY TO’O TO’O — AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
On my radio show, back in June, Caserio brought up To'o To'o unsolicited in listing players (not JUST rookies) who appear to be adapting to Ryans' defense early on. The fifth round pick made some splash plays against the Patriots, and is a lock to make the team and get some snaps. For a fifth round pick, this is WELL ahead of schedule.
6/201. C/G JARRETT PATTERSON — BEHIND SCHEDULE
There are roster spots to be had backing up the starting offensive line. The depth at that position is not good. To that end, Patterson has a real opportunity to solidify a backup spot. Unfortunately, he's been banged up, and missed the New England game. He was back at practice this past weekend, but for now, Patterson is slightly behind schedule, with a chance to catch up quickly.
6/205. WR XAVIER HUTCHINSON — AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
Like Dell, Hutchinson was incredibly productive in college. Also, like Dell, the pro game has not looked too fast for Hutchinson, who's gotten reps with Stroud, at times, throughout camp. I think ultimately, Hutchinson will be the reason they keep six receivers, and as a sixth round pick, that puts him ahead of schedule.
7/248. S BRANDON HILL — ON SCHEDULE
I'll be honest, I barely notice Hill at camp. He is running with the backup backups right now, which for a seventh round pick puts him right on schedule. The only way he'd be behind schedule would be if he were injured. To my knowledge, he is not.
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