Texans avoid Alabama QB Bryce Young in Mel Kiper mock draft

The Houston Texans and Bryce Young are more linked than the commercial airline industry and peanuts.

However, Mel Kiper from ESPN released his latest mock and has the Texans going in a different direction at No. 2 overall in the 2023 NFL draft.

I see Stroud as the best fit here as the Texans could get their pick of the top passers. He’s extremely accurate, can make every throw and has excellent touch at every level of the field. I usually don’t put much stock into a single game evaluation, but Stroud’s performance in the narrow loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals showed me something. He was spectacular against an elite defense, carving up the Bulldogs with his arm and using his legs to maneuver the pocket and find receivers. Houston still has several needs, but it should start with Stroud. I have Stroud just barely behind Will Levis (Kentucky) and Bryce Young (Alabama) in my rankings, but it’s going to be a close race through April.

Stroud was 23-34 for 348 yards and four touchdowns against Georgia in the national semifinal. In a game against a defense chock full of future first-rounders, Stroud shined, and Ohio State was a wide-left field goal away from playing TCU for the national title.

The Indianapolis Colts take Young at No. 4 overall. No need to make a deal with the Chicago Bears at No. 1 overall.

Houston uses their No. 12 overall pick obtained in the 2022 offseason trade with the Cleveland Browns to shore up their defensive line with Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness.

Don’t get picky and try to plug a hole — this roster has to improve in several spots. Van Ness is a versatile and productive defender who made an impact at end and tackle for the Hawkeyes, even as he never actually started a game. He had 13.5 sacks over the past two seasons, 9.5 from the interior and four from the edge. NFL teams covet that sort of positional flexibility. He would get lots of early snaps for Houston.

What will ultimately tell the tale of where Houston goes in the draft is what they do with the new coaching staff.

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Houston Texans coach tracker: Who gets the job in 2023?

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Story originally appeared on Texans Wire