Texans vs. Bears, top prospects

There’s simply another week to the 2022 NFL season, and 2 groups are still in the running for the No. 1 total choice in the 2023 draft. Will it be the Houston Texans (2-13-1) or Chicago Bears (3-13) when the dust settles Sunday? And which leading possibility might each group target as the very first gamer off the board?

After a down year for quarterback potential customers — there was simply one picked in the very first 2 rounds last April — there are at least 3 who might go initially off the board this year. And beyond the signal-callers, there are several elite protectors who can stake a claim to being the very best total possibility in the class and possibly be the very first gamer taken.

We pitched 10 concerns to NFL draft expert Jordan Reid, Texans press reporter DJ Bien-Aime, Bears press reporter Courtney Cronin and analytics author Seth Walder to arrange through how it might all play out April 27, including what to learn about the race for No. 1 and which potential customers might be the leading choice. Be sure to take a look at Reid’s brand-new Round 1 mock draft to see his predicted choices for both groups. Let’s dig in.

Are the Texans or Bears most likely to declare the leading choice?

Walder: The Texans. Houston having a somewhat even worse record entering into the last week is a substantial benefit, however the race is closer than you may believe since it plays the Colts. ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) is more positive in the Texans winning in Week 18 (66.7%) than it has actually been heading into any other Houston video game this season. As an outcome, FPI makes it a narrow favorite — 55.7% to Chicago’s 44.3% — to make the leading choice.

Houston can clinch with either a loss or tie versus Indianapolis or a Chicago win or connect versus Minnesota. Chicago, on the other hand, requires a loss and Texans win to move into the leading area. Houston has the tiebreaker in the not likely occasion that both groups complete with the exact same winning portion.

How’d the Texans wind up here? And are they sure Davis Mills is not their person at QB?

Bien-Aime: Houston has actually had a hard time throughout the board, with its 4.7 backyards per play ranking last in the league and 5.7 backyards permitted per play sitting at 24th. Its nine-game losing streak in the middle of the season was connected for the second-longest in franchise history, behind a 14-game stint in 2013. And the group actually had a hard time to liquidate video games, too. In 5 of the Texans’ 13 losses, they either led or were connected after the 3rd quarter. That isn’t going to get it done.

And yes, quarterback play hasn’t been where it requires to be to win, and it’s clear Mills is not the Texans’ long-lasting response — particularly given that they at one point benched him for Kyle Allen and have actually leaned more on Jeff Driskel in a two-QB system down the stretch. The offense has actually balanced just 16.1 points (31st), and Mills has actually tossed 13 interceptions over 14 starts. His 32.9 QBR ranks 30th out of 31 certifying quarterbacks, ahead of just Baker Mayfield.

Mills is a strong NFL backup, however he isn’t a long-lasting starter the Texans can develop around. They require to check out other choices this spring.

So then it’s quarterback or bust for the Texans with their leading choice?

Bien-Aime: Absolutely. The Texans not having a response at the position is a significant factor they’re selecting this high, and this ought to be a strong class to discover their person. Over the previous 2 seasons, Houston ranks 31st in QBR (33.7) and 32nd in backyards per dropback (5.5), and this is an outstanding possibility to significantly enhance the outlook of the position. Simply put, the Texans’ restore can’t reach its ceiling if there’s no stability at the position.

Something else to think about: Houston likewise requires some juice and energy. The arena is half empty throughout video games, and the Texans require a gamer to reenergize the fan base. A future star quarterback might do that.

Who are the quarterbacks that might go No. 1?

Reid: There are 3 who really take a crack at, and each has his own distinct capability.

First, there’s Bryce Young of Alabama, who stated for the draft after the Crimson Tide won their championship game. Listed at 6-foot and 194 pounds, Young is smaller sized than the other 2, however he has all of the other active ingredients needed to end up being a high-end passer at the next level. One of the lion’s shares of his video game is his capability to identify and assault vulnerable points in defenses with either his arm or his legs. He has exceptional grace and plays the video game with the exact same heart beat no matter the magnitude of the scenario.

Then there is Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, a standard pocket passer who can see it, read it and perform any toss. When in rhythm, he’s a point player who can disperse the ball properly in a prompt way. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Stroud shows tidy footwork and excellent body mechanics, however he requires to reveal more as a developer when plays are knocked off schedule.

And lastly, we have Kentucky passer Will Levis. At 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, he has the type of frame that NFL groups long for, and the Wildcats’ offense provided him a great deal of experience with pro-style offending principles, consisting of play-action and experience from both under center and out of the shotgun. The ball comes off his hand with a lots of speed, too, as Levis can provide it where it requires to go even when his feet aren’t correctly set. But his turnover problems are worrying. He had at least one in all however 3 video games this season and tossed 10 interceptions.

Which of them is the very best suitable for Houston?

Reid: Young. He has actually been my QB1 given that the summertime, and I do not see anything altering. Houston is still reconstructing this lineup with young skill, however basic supervisor Nick Caserio has some young foundation in location and 2 first-round choices in each of the next 2 drafts.

The Texans plainly do not have an identity, which “face of the franchise”-type gamer still hasn’t emerged. Young would instantly alter whatever, providing the group an instantaneous shock of enjoyment. He can make all the tosses and has actually discovered success no matter the supporting cast. Plus, he currently understands among their young gamers, having actually gotten in touch with John Metchie III 96 times at Alabama last season. Metchie, Houston’s second-round choice last April, missed out on the season while being dealt with for leukemia, however he is anticipated to be all set to play in 2023.

The Texans likewise have a 2nd Round 1 choice, thanks to the Browns. What’s their most significant requirement beyond QB?

Bien-Aime: There are a great deal of weak points here — after all, Houston has simply 2 wins — however the interior offending line is most likely their most significant requirement. Their combination of best guard A.J. Cann, center Scott Quessenberry and left guard Kenyon Green has actually quit 22 sacks.

But that’s not a position you’ll see this early in the draft (presently predicted to be No. 12, per ESPN’s FPI), so I’d anticipate Houston to include a difference-maker at a premium offending position. Receiver Brandin Cooks leads the group with 593 getting backyards, and nobody has more TD captures than tight end Jordan Akins’ 3. The Texans require to get their brand-new QB some aid!

OK, and how about the Bears? How did they wind up here in spite of Justin Fields’ breakout?

Cronin: Yes, they have actually been much better, however the skill surrounding Fields has actually been Chicago’s risk. The Bears have the league’s worst passing offense and do not have a single gamer with a minimum of 500 getting backyards. Defensively, they rank 29th in run defense (5.0 backyards permitted per rush), and no group quits more points than their 27.1 per video game average. Their Week 17 loss was their ninth straight, the longest losing streak in franchise history.

This group was not developed to see success in the kind of wins in 2022, and basic supervisor Ryan Poles started a lineup teardown at midseason by trading linebacker Roquan Smith to Baltimore. The Bears, nevertheless, are now in a position to include strongly by means of totally free firm — they have north of $110 million in wage cap area in 2023 — and the draft, and they currently inspected their most significant and crucial box by finding out Fields is the quarterback to develop around.

Unlike Houston, Chicago would not be taking a look at QB with this choice. What is the Bears’ leading concern atop the draft?

Cronin: Building around Fields on offense is important, however the Bears can’t actually do that at No. 1 or No. 2 based upon positional worth. Georgia protective take on Jalen Carter might rather be a choice since 3-technique is the most essential position in Matt Eberflus’ defense. The Bears have actually disappointed a capability to pressure opposing quarterbacks (22% of challenger dropbacks, 31st in the NFL) or stop the run. Drafting somebody like Carter starts to resolve both of those problems.

Offensive line and pass receiver are likewise amongst this group’s most significant requirements. Outside of wideouts Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool and novice Velus Jones Jr., who can the Bears state for particular is on their lineup next year at the position?

Who are the non-QB potential customers who might go No. 1 if the Bears are selecting there?

Reid: How about Alabama edge rush Will Anderson Jr.? The 6-foot-4, 243-pounder has 27.5 sacks, 54 takes on for loss and 129 pressures over the previous 2 seasons. Just think about that the Bears’ leader in sacks this season is security Jaquan Brisker (4), and it’s apparent this group requires aid because location. Anderson would offer the group a reputable danger off the edge who might become a possible franchise focal point. His mix of pass-rush savviness, heavy hands and volatility actually stands apart on tape.

Courtney likewise discussed Carter, and Eberflus is on record stating that 3-technique is the “engine that makes everything go” in his defense. At 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, Carter’s volatility and permeating capability would be a welcome addition.

Teams will be aiming to go up the board for a QB. Would a trade down remain in play for Chicago?

Cronin: Absolutely. Chicago does not have a requirement at quarterback, so it would remain in prime position to take the very best trade bundle offered and return from No. 1 (or No. 2) while still having the ability to prepare a leading protective gamer. The Bears may not wish to move down too far, offered Carter and Anderson will not be offered for long, however there ought to be choices there.

If Houston is up to No. 2 and has its eyes set on preparing a specific passer, it may be ready pay a high cost to relocate to No. 1 to guarantee that takes place and obstruct another group.Teams such as Seattle, Indianapolis, Detroit, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Carolina might likewise all remain in the mix to provide a huge bundle to get their person.

Zion Williamson (hamstring) out a minimum of 3 weeks –

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