The Houston Texans had two big hits in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft with C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson. Both players had come into the season as threats to be taken seriously. Stroud, to his credit, has all but locked up the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. That's even with him struggling three weeks ago against the New York Jets and missing the last two weeks. Stroud has secured that award with ease.
Anderson, on the other hand, wasn't in the lead for the award across the season but stayed within shouting distance for it. He's had a good season according to PFF, who grade him out at a respectable 80.5 on the year. His impact against the run game has been pretty apparent from the jump, and he's shown an ability to get into the backfield and cause havoc.
The only problem that exists with Anderson's candidacy, however, is his stat line. He hasn't put up the best numbers, especially where it matters most for defensive ends; sacks. Through the season he's only compiled five on the year, and while missing essentially the last three weeks hasn't helped that figure, he just wasn't getting to the quarterback enough when he was healthy.
With names like YaYa Diaby, Joey Porter Jr. and so many others fighting for the award, it's hard to say that Anderson has done enough to keep guys like them, Lukas Van Ness, and others off his heels. A lot of rookies have stepped up this season, and Anderson may not have done enough to fend them off come award season.
And while he may have done enough to fend off those and other rookies, the one rookie he's been chasing all season is Jalen Carter. Carter has been the top dog all season long, and the front-runner for the award, and while their stats are similar, Carter's healthy and making a direct impact while Anderson continues to miss time. It's hard to argue that Anderson should take the award from Carter at this point.
If Anderson returns for the Tennessee Titans matchup and dominates the next two weeks, sure, Anderson is back in the running. But unless that happens, the Texans aren't going to see two rookies win their respective awards.