C.J. Stroud, Will Anderson Jr. Ready to Make the Texans Historic Draft Night an All-Time Coup

Social Navigation

C.J. Stroud, Will Anderson Jr. Ready to Make the Texans Historic Draft Night an All-Time Coup


“Great question,” Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud replied to a reporter who asked him who gets the bragging rights between Stroud and No. 3 overall selection Will Anderson. “When we win a Super Bowl, we’re both going to split it.”

On April 27, the chatter about the Houston Texans in the NFL Draft media workroom at the Westin Hotel was rampant. The notion that the Carolina Panthers were taking Alabama quarterback at No. 1 was a forgone conclusion. The 2023 NFL Draft started at No. 2 when the Houston Texans were on the clock.

Will the Texans take C.J. Stroud?

Will they take Will Anderson Jr.?

Will the Arizona Cardinals trade back from No. 3?

Yes, yes, and yes. How all three of those questions were answered in the affirmative made for a wild scene at the Westin.

After the Texans wasted no time making Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud the second overall selection, Houston shocked the NFL world. Houston traded back onto the clock, sending the No. 12 pick in the first round, the No. 33 pick in the second round, and a first and third-round pick in 2024 to Arizona. No one saw that one coming. Not the 100,000-plus fans in attendance just outside of the Westin. Not the hundreds of media members inside the media workroom at the Westin. Heck, not even the NFL communications staffers responsible for coordinating the behind-the-scenes coverage.

When I say no one, I mean no one.

The move sent everyone into a frenzy. We were supposed to get the draft picks in the interview room at the Westin after they came off the stage at Union Station and before the following selection was announced. The Texans trade threw a wrench into that plan. We got C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. together after their TV and radio spots. The audibles that the NFL communications staff had to do that night were feverish. Things got so backed up that we ended up speaking with fifth overall pick Devon Witherspoon when the Seahawks were on the clock again at No. 20. Witherspoon watched with us as Seattle picked Stroud’s college teammate Jaxon Smith-Njigba on a TV adjacent to the stage in which the draftees sat while being interviewed.

I will say this, for the rate at which my head was spinning as I covered my first NFL Draft in person, I think everyone involved on the NFL side did a superb job, all things considered.

Speaking of the Seahawks taking Jaxon Smith-Njigba, C.J. Stroud gave everyone a good laugh when he lobbied for the Texans to pull off another trade into the first round to nab his former wide receiver while he was still on the board:

“Man, I’m praying for it! I ain’t gonna lie, if they didn’t get Will if they got Jaxon at twelve, I would have super happy,” Stroud said as he quickly switched gears to compliment the actual Texans draft pick Will Anderson Jr. amid a flood of laughter in the press conference room. “But I’m super happy for Will to be my teammate! But nah, if they can somehow finesse to get back into the first round, I’ll give my left leg up for that. I can hobble and throw the ball around with Jax; he’s that good.”

Stroud’s calls went unanswered, and Smith-Njigba went to Seattle in the first round. Even still, Stroud made it clear that he was psyched to have the opportunity to play with Anderson.

“Once I seen that the pick went in, I was super stoked. I Will [Anderson Jr.] was probably going to be the pick, and I was excited for him. We were with each other not too long ago and we talked about maybe being teammates, and now that we are, man, we’re just super blessed.”

Stroud said that the Texans’ rebuild was heading in the right direction that night. Time will tell if that’s the case, but landing two premium prospects, such as Stroud and Will Anderson, was a historically excellent addition to the Houston Texans roster.

Houston’s draft night blockbuster is in historic company. The Texans became the first team since the Washington Commanders in 2000 to make back-to-back selections in the top five. Washington took LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels at No. 2 and No. 3. The only other team to pick back-to-back in the top five was the Indianapolis Colts when they selected Steve Emtman and Quentin Coryat with the first two picks in the draft.

Prior to the draft, many people focused on C.J. Stroud’s S2 score.

A lot of people haven’t played the sport, and I mean critics are gonna critique. For me I know the film speaks for itself. Everything that I’ve done in college, I’ve been very consistent. I think I’ve been one of the most consistent players in college football for the last two years. If you turn on the tape, you can see, you can answer the questions. But those who don’t understand tape might want to go to other things and analyze other things. They’re more than welcome to do such. But the people who are making the choices and the picks, they knew what I can do. They understood the IQ that I do have.

C.J. Stroud threw a Big Ten record 41 touchdowns in 2022 and amassed over 8,100 yards in two seasons as the starter at Ohio State. Stroud is an excellent prospect with the numbers to back it. He throws with patience and poise and can make all the throws. While he needs to work on his improvisational skills when things break down around him, he’s comfortable making throws from multiple spots on the field.

Stroud checks the boxes physically and on tape. Still, his S2 test was a storyline that swirled in the days leading up to the draft. Despite the reported results, Stroud says he has all the smarts he needs. Especially when it comes to X’s and O’s.

“I have a great memory when it comes to football. I feel like there’s different ways to be geniuses. You don’t just have to be book smart. You can be analytics smart, you can be numbers smart, you can be football smart. I really think that there’s different types of ways to be smart. That’s something that I pride myself on. And I am book smart. I did have over a 3.0 [GPA] in college. I had over a 3.0 in high school [and] I know that I can think, I can process very, very fast. The film, you can see me going from first option to second and then back to one and then to three to four if I have to. I can check down. I can use my feet.”

As for Anderson, he felt a similar squeeze in the days leading up to the draft. For much of the pre-draft process, he was the consensus top pass rusher in the class. Before the Bears traded away their first pick to the Panthers, many considered Anderson to be a potential top pick in the draft. However, there was plenty of chatter about Tyree Wilson being taken in front of Anderson. Still, the Texans made Anderson their guy.

After adding a cornerstone player on each side of the ball, new head coach DeMeco Ryans has the building blocks for success in Houston.

As for what the immediate future holds for the Texans and their two newest faces of the franchise, C.J. Stroud says to prepare for a change of culture in Houston.

“I say get ready. We’re brining it,” Stroud said. “I don’t know what it’s going to look like when we first get there, but [we’re] going to work. I think that’s what it’s about. Putting in the work to make sure that when our numbers are called, we make the plays to try to get [the Texans] back to the top like they were a couple of years ago.”

Stroud told the media in Houston after he arrived that he’s here to help the Texans come out of the recent dark years that they’ve endured:

“That’s what life is about, working to build something good. That’s what I’m here to help this team do. I’m ready for it.”

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.