DOLLARS AND SENSE
Why the price to draft Will Anderson Jr. is not as steep as it seems for Texans
The Houston Texans stole headlines last Thursday when they traded up just moments after selecting Ohio State quarterback CJ. Stroud with the No. 2 overall pick to take Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. at No. 3 overall.
Houston came away with potentially its franchise quarterback and arguably the best defensive prospect in this year’s draft. Despite the shocking move, however, there were some concerns raised about the price the Texans paid to trade up. While at first glance, the cost to move up is eye-popping, here is why it might not be as expensive as it may seem.
Houston traded its No. 12 and No. 33 overall picks in the 2023 draft and also included its own first-round pick and a third-round pick in the 2024 draft.
In exchange, the Texans landed the No. 3 overall pick that was used to take Anderson, and they also got an additional 2023 fourth-round pick, No. 105 overall, from the Arizona Cardinals. Houston later traded that fourth-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 2024 third-round pick.
When it was all said and done, the Texans essentially swapped the No. 12 pick to move up to No. 3 and the main cost was giving up their second-round pick (No. 33) and their own first-round pick for next season. The third-round pick Houston obtained from Philadelphia helps minimize the one it gave to Arizona.
The Texans losing their first-round pick is also mitigated by the fact they still own the Cleveland Browns’ 2024 first-round pick from the Deshaun Watson trade.
The biggest cause for concern for Houston is that despite still holding the first-round pick from Cleveland, its own first-round pick that now belongs to Arizona could be a really high selection in 2024.
While that is a valid concern, if both Stroud and Anderson turn out to be home run picks that Houston’s staff envisions they will be, the chances the Texans remain a bottom team in the NFL are reduced.
At the end of the day, what will determine if the Texans paid too much of a price to move up in the 2023 draft will be determined by two factors that are closely linked. The first is how good Houston is during the 2023 season.
The trade sort of becomes a bet, and general manager Nick Caserio and head coach DeMeco Ryans are doubling down that the team has its cornerstone players with Stroud and Anderson. The better Houston does, the less expensive giving up its own first-round pick becomes.
With the Texans residing in the AFC South, being a competitive six-to-eight win team is not that far out of the realm either. Houston, with all the holes it had on the roster, defeated all three AFC South opponents in 2022.
Add in the fact that the Cleveland Browns play in the much tougher AFC North that features the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals, and it shouldn’t be too shocking if this time next year the Browns’ pick is higher than Houston’s.
The second factor that will determine whether Houston paid too much to move up comes down to the play of Anderson. With Ryans at the helm, it is no doubt he had a big influence in the Texans’ decision to pursue the Crimson Tide player.
If Anderson develops into an every down impact player and a Pro Bowler year in and year out, no one will remember the price Houston paid to take him. The better he does, the more likely the Texans will find success on the field as well.Ultimately, the Texans are going all in, and only time will tell if the payout will be a jackpot.