This is where the supreme depression and realization that the Texans were operating in another universe, a BAD universe, from the rest of the league kicked in. Whereas less than two years prior, the jerseys available included Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, and DeAndre Hopkins (i.e. LEGIT stars), the 2021 selections included Zach Cunningham (who was weeks away from being cut at the time), Jonathan Greenard (a second year player with no resume), and Brandin Cooks (yay, an actual name, but blah).
Last season, the Texans at least drafted a few guys whose jerseys fans should consider purchasing, like Jalen Pitre and Dameon Pierce. This season, however, we are back to full game jersey relevance, baby! Don't take it from me, though. Take it from the NFL Players Association, who released the following tweet last week with the "RISING STAR" forecast for veterans and rookies:
I spy two Texans rookies on the list! What's up, C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson, fourth and sixth on the list respectively? Let's take a deeper look at this list, with some quick hit analysis.
All hail the rising retail kings 👑 The 2023 Rising Stars list projects which veterans + rookies are poised to have breakout seasons, gain fan support and ultimately rank among the top-sellers of all officially licensed player merchandise.— NFLPA (@NFLPA) June 15, 2023
🔗: https://t.co/D06awZmHNe pic.twitter.com/YLqA3xPc5t
1. ANTHONY RICHARDSON, QB, Colts
It's interesting that the NFLPA sees the 4th overall pick as a better jersey seller than the two quarterbacks taken ahead of him, Stroud and Bryce Young. My radio cohost Seth Payne had a good hypothesis as to why — perhaps, Richardson's expected electric style of play, which could resemble a much larger version of Michael Vick, may be a factor.
2. BIJAN ROBINSON, RB, Falcons
Robinson is the odds on favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year, and in Arthur Smith's offense, he will likely see some Derrick Henry level usage, which may include some use as a wide receiver. Robinson is going to be a beast.
3. BRYCE YOUNG, QB, Panthers
Here's the number one overall pick, already anointed QB1 in Carolina. I think there's a really good chance that he ends up the top jersey seller, too.
4. C.J. STROUD, QB, Texans
Yes! A relevant Houston Texan! Stroud has a really likable personality, and while Young has essentially already been named the Panthers' starter, Stroud still has work to do. If indeed he does start for the Texans in Week 1, I could see a successful season moving a ton of merchandise for him.
5. JAXON SMITH-NJIGBA, WR, Seahawks
Stroud's Ohio State teammate is the top wide receiver on the "Rising Stars" board. The word of caution here is that Smith-Njigba is already dealing with some hamstring issues in offseason activities, after playing in only a handful fo games last season in Columbus due to hamstring issues.
6. WILL ANDERSON, DE, Texans
Another Texan! Hey, when you pick second AND third in the draft, one thing you know you're going to do the next season — SELL JERSEYS, BABY!
7. ZAY FLOWERS, WR, Ravens
Now, we are getting into the weeds a little bit. Flowers was the 22nd pick overall, and I really like his game. If the Ravens win big this season, Flowers is likely a big part of that, and pushing for All-Rookie recognition.
8. JALIN HYATT, WR, Giants
Hyatt was the 73rd overall pick in the draft, by far the lowest draft pick in this top ten, but he will be playing in a huge market like New York, on a team that has some serious wide receiver issues. Thus, there will be no shortage of opportunity.
9. JORDAN ADDISON, WR, Vikings
This is basically the NFC North version of Zay Flowrers, from a buzz and "Rising Star" standpoint. Addison also has some shine from playing collegiately at USC.
10. JOEY PORTER, Jr., CB, Steelers
The only defensive player, other than Anderson, on the list, I would imagine Porter's case for being on a list of jersey-selling "Rising Stars" is two fold — (a) he is playing for the Steelers in front of one of the most rabid fan bases in the league, and (b) he is a second generation player, whose dad was very popular and outgoing.
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