Texans, Lions, Bears Host Will Anderson Jr.; Houston Not Committed To Taking QB At No. 2?
The pre-draft season is in full swing and the Texans are once again in possession of the top three. The rebuilding team has long been expected to go with a quarterback at No. 2 overall, but GM Nick Caserio has yet to rush into selecting a potential long-term replacement for Deshaun Watson.
The Texans have met with Will Anderson Jr., KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson reports. Houston joins Chicago and Detroit in meeting the sought-after rusher. The Bears and Lions have made their plans at quarterback known, committing to Justin Fields and Jared Goff for 2023. The Texans matchup is definitely more interesting.
Houston has been linked to Bryce Young and CJ Stroud. Young and Will Levis have met with the Texans on pre-draft visits, and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport adds Stroud will do so on Wednesday ( Twitter link ). Expected to be the second team to take a quarterback in this draft, the Texans are not a lock to do so. If Caserio didn’t want a quarterback who would be available at 2, NBC Sports’ Peter King hears some chatter that the Texans could draft Anderson, who is considered a safer bet. The team has not scheduled a meeting with Florida’s Anthony Richardson.
In this scenario, King notes that the Texans could use their No. 12 overall to reclaim the position for one of the best quarterbacks. But taking Anderson at 2 and sacrificing future draft capital for maybe the 3rd or 4th best QB in the draft might not be the best plan from a value perspective, but if the Texans like him that much Anderson, is a potential plan to monitor. The Texans are short on talent after losing Ogbonnia Okoronkwo to the Browns in free agency. DeMeco Ryans built his coaching candidacy on the strength of strong defensive lines. The Texans signed Sheldon Rankins and still have Maliek Collins under contract, but they are light on the rushing presence.
This should still be considered the least likely route for Houston, and King expects Caserio to truly commit to a quarterback at 2. This marks the GM’s second draft with Watson in the rearview mirror, and after making his two hires first in HC (David Culley, Lovie Smith). Moving to a quarterback — potentially a former Heisman winner in Young, as the Panthers have been more linked to Stroud recently — at that spot will inject more risk into Caserio’s situation.
Anderson has recorded 27.5 sacks over the last two seasons; ESPN’s Scouts Inc. rates two-time Trophy winner Bronko Nagurski as the second-best prospect in this year’s draft. Anderson sits between Young and Stroud on that list, further illustrating the risk the Texans would be taking by going with the established running back. As the latest Mel Kiper Jr. mock drafts. and Todd McShay, Houston took Young at 2 years old.
Keeping choice no. 6, The Lions may be a little low on Anderson, who would undoubtedly make an intriguing pass to a back line anchored by Aidan Hutchinson. Three quarterbacks are expected to be taken in the top five, although the statuses of Richardson and Levis are more difficult to pin down compared to Stroud and Young. Anderson’s availability could depend on where the Cardinals end up — whether they trade up from No. 3 overall — and how the Seahawks fare at No. 5. Even if the top four QBs go in the top five, it would leave still a spot available for Anderson, whom McShay and Kiper have as the first non-passer off the board. The Bears are looking at rushing help, but Anderson will probably be out of their reach at No. 9.