How Josh McCown's Statement On C.J. Stroud Affects Texans 2023 NFL Draft Plans

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The Carolina Panthers showed their cards after trading for the top overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. While they sent a treasure trove of assets to the Chicago Bears, the Panthers’ front office believed it was a golden opportunity to select the next franchise quarterback.

But even if their intentions are clear, the player they are keen on drafting remains a mystery. However, Panthers quarterbacks coach Josh McCown might have hinted at whom they will select.'s Schuyler Callihan [1] revealed an interesting exchange between McCown and C.J. Stroud after Ohio State’s Pro Day.

Finding a court for a game of Horse could be soft evidence that Carolina is leaning toward Stroud. If that’s the case, the Texans’ approach for the number two pick may have to change. Undoubtedly, Stroud is an exceptional prospect, especially after being a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2021 and 2022. He also showed incredible poise in big games with his 348-yard, four-touchdown performance in the Peach Bowl as just one example.

In another article [2], Callihan reported on McCown's deep admiration of Stroud’s game during his recent appearance on Underdog Fantasy’s “Scheme.” The 18-year NFL veteran compared Stroud's attributes to Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, especially on arm strength and mobility. That’s high praise disguised as an evaluation.

Luckily for the Texans, there are other talented prospects now that Stroud may be off to Charlotte. Like the former Buckeyes play-caller, they all have strengths and weaknesses. Bryce Young’s accuracy and game awareness are superb, but questions about his size and strength exist. Flip the script and you have Kentucky's Will Levis. Meanwhile, Anthony Richardson is a dual threat, but his decision-making is sometimes questionable.

Drafting A QB Makes The Most Sense

There's a bit of pick your poison for the Texans from the remaining options. However, they will undoubtedly turn in a quarterback’s name for the second overall selection. While they also have glaring needs at linebacker and the interior offensive line, having a great quarterback compensates for other roster deficiencies, even on defense.

Davis Mills played admirably, but there are better options than him in the upcoming draft. Besides, they can address other holes later in the draft, given that they also own the 12th overall pick and 11 more selections. That’s a lot of ammunition to stockpile talent or trade for established players. The Texans can also sign more free agents using the $19.7 million cap space that remains after the first wave of free agency.

Generational quarterbacks are hard to come by, and the 2023 draft could be the Texans’ best chance to get one. They will have to do due diligence on every top-rated player at the position before coming up with a decision they won’t regret. The legwork doesn’t change, even if the Panthers closed the window on Stroud.

The quarterback who will end up in Houston is in a good position because the cupboard’s not bare. There’s sensational running back Dameon Pierce, who could have had over 1,000 rushing yards in his rookie season if not for an ankle injury. They also added Devin Singletary, a change-of-pace runner, and an able pass-catcher.

The Texans also brought Robert Woods, Noah Brown, and Dalton Schultz to team up with Nico Collins and John Metchie III. None of these moves will work without someone who can spread the ball and find his targets, primarily through tight coverage. The Texans have a month to determine the right piece for their puzzle. This decision will be the difference between winning a wide-open AFC South or extending their playoff drought for four years.

[1] Callihan, Schuyler. “Josh McCown’s Moment with C.J. Stroud Goes Viral.” Sports Illustrated Carolina Panthers News, Analysis and More, Sports Illustrated Carolina Panthers News, Analysis and More, 23 Mar. 2023, Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.

‌[2] Callihan, Schuyler. “Panthers QB Coach Once Compared C.J. Stroud to an NFL Star.” Sports Illustrated Carolina Panthers News, Analysis and More, Sports Illustrated Carolina Panthers News, Analysis and More, 13 Feb. 2023, Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.