Texans: C.J. Stroud and the 2023 NFL Draft class are making fans forget about Deshaun Watson

The Houston Texans pushed all chips to the center of the table at the 2023 NFL Draft. In doing so, the franchise acquired its long-term quarterback, C.J. Stroud. How has the rest of the class fared in Year 1?

Nov 5, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) walks off the field
Nov 5, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) walks off the field / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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Day 3 Of The 2023 NFL Draft Provided Houston With Ample Depth

Round 4, No. 109 — Dylan Horton, DL, TCU

Dylan Horton went early on Day 3 and has produced multiple flashes of high-end play as a rookie — albeit in extremely limited fashion. DeMeco Ryans loves to rotate his pass rushers to keep them fresh; Horton should have a place within that rotation as his rookie year progresses. Any further additions to the position next offseason will determine his standing on the depth chart. But he’s promising, nonetheless.

Round 5, No. 167 — Henry To’oTo’o, LB, Alabama

The Alabama leader heard his name called halfway through the third day of the 2023 NFL Draft. His lack of playing strength and raw instincts in coverage were the cause. So far, with the Texans, these issues have surfaced time and time again.

That being said, Henry To’oTo’o has logged a decent amount of snaps, including a couple of starts for the Houston defense. His lackluster PFF grades show why To’oTo’o shouldn’t be considered anything more than a depth piece at linebacker.

Round 6, No. 201 — Jarrett Patterson, OL, Notre Dame

Jarrett Patterson was drafted as a depth option on the offensive line. However, thanks to several injuries upfront, the Notre Dame veteran found his way into the starting lineup. And he’s played extremely well, all things considered.

Patterson hasn’t allowed a single sack from the center position and has been charged with one penalty in 464 snaps as a rookie. He’s played well enough to cause a debate at center when Scruggs comes back.

Will Patterson remain as the starter? Or is Scruggs the best bet when he returns from injury? I’d bet on the latter, but Patterson has undoubtedly earned himself a chance at reps from guard, even if he’s moved off of center. He's another nice find for the Texans.

Round 6, No. 205 — Xavier Hutchinson, WR, Iowa State

Xavier Hutchinson Hive, please stand up! Oh, it’s just me? That’s fine, I will die on this hill alone if necessary. Coming out of Iowa State, Xavier Hutchinson earned a top 100 grade on my Big Board. His polished route running, trustworthy hands, and deceptive agility after the catch were the primary reasons for such a strong grade.

In Year 1, Hutchinson hasn’t gotten much run within the Texans offense. He only has one reception to this point, with most of his action coming on the special teams unit. Nico Collins and Tank Dell cloud the depth chart right now, but Hutchinson has the traits to be a solid WR3 in the right setting. That’s worth the 205th pick every time.

Round 7, No. 248 — Brandon Hill, DB, Pittsburgh

Another player ravaged by injury, Brandon Hill has yet to suit up for the Texans in the regular season. The Pittsburgh product profiles as a special teams ace, but with his experience on the Panthers secondary, Hill has a chance to get some snaps in a young defensive back room. He is still “to be determined” as a draft pick. At the end of Round 7, at least that dice roll comes without risk.