PHOENIX – When Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud was rifling passes at his standing room-only Pro Day, Texans coach Nick Caserio was at the SMU Pro Day watching standout wide receiver Rashee Rice.
When Alabama quarterback Bryce Young was displaying his versatility at his Pro Day, Caserio and special-teams coordinator Frank Ross were at the University of Houston Pro Day scouting quarterback Clayton Tune, wide receiver-kick returner Tank Dell and others.
That doesn’t mean the Texans aren’t scouting Stroud, Young and other quarterbacks. They are bringing in both players for official visits, according to Texans coach DeMeco Ryans. And they met with both players at the NFL scouting combine. The Texans sent a delegation of scouts, including assistant director of player personnel and college scouting director James Liipfert and national scout John Ritcher along with scout Blaise Taggart to both Pro Days.
The Texans hold the second overall and 12th overall picks and are expected to draft a quarterback. They also brought in Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker for an official visit, met with Kentucky quarterback Will Levis and Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson at the NFL scouting combine and also have Levis and Richardson on their visit list, according to league source.
Ryans discussed the scouting process Monday morning at the NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore.
“We had guys who were there,” Ryans had our scouts who were on the road, some guys who were there that we trust,” Ryans said. “We’ve watched our guys on film. Guys that we’ve evaluated all are quarterbacks. All the linebackers, D-line, so we were watching all the players. Not going to the Pro Day is not a knock. We had guys who were there.”
The Carolina Panthers, who traded up with the Chicago Bears sent over a dozen people to both Pro Days, including owner David Tepper, coach Frank Reich, general manager Scott Fitterer, quarterbacks coach Josh McCown, along with Levis’ Pro Day and will do so this week with Richardson.
By meeting with Young and Stroud and others in Houston, Ryans, Caserio, chairman and CEO Cal McNair and others will have the opportunity to get to know them better.
“We have visits scheduled with those guys as well,” Ryans said. “That’s part of it as well. The Pro day is one part of it. We have the combine, which we’ve met with guys. We have Pro Days. We have 30 visits. Wee have film. So, it’s all encompassing when we’re evaluating players. It’s not just one event trying to make sure we’re there for that. It’s about just making sure we have a full assessment of the players.”
Although Young lacks ideal size and has been listed at 5-foot-10, 194 pounds in college, 204 pounds at the combine and declined to weigh in again at his Pro Day, the California native is a dynamic passer with a penchant for delivering electric plays. A consensus All-American, went 23-4 as a starter for the Crimson Tide and passed for 8,356 career yards, 80 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
The Texans are known to have a high opinion on Young in scouting reports. A potential lack of durability due to his relatively smaller frame is the only attribute teams see lacking in Young.
“I know Bryce is an outstanding leader from what I’ve seen, and is an outstanding quarterback,” Ryans said. “It’s no surprise the success that he’s had. Just because of the makeup, the type of guy that he is, it’s no surprise the success he’s had. Wishing him the best moving forward.”
A blue-chip recruit, Young stepped in for New England Patriots starter Mac Jones after backing him up on a national championship squad in 2020.
In his final college season, Young passed for 3,328 yards, 32 touchdowns with five interceptions.
“Two good players, two good quality quarterbacks,” Ryans said. “We’ll see what happens in the draft
Stroud, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound Rancho Cucamonga, California native known for his philanthropic efforts, holds the Ohio State single-game passing record with 573 yards and six touchdowns in the Rose Bowl and was the first player to throw for six touchdowns three times.
He was a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist.
A former backup to Chicago Bears starting quarterback Justin Fields with the Buckeyes, Stroud finished third in the Heisman balloting behind winner Caleb Williams and runnerup Max Duggan.
Stroud passed for 3,878 yards and 47 touchdowns as a high school senior and was named MVP of the Elite 11 and an All-American selection.
He passed for 348 yards and four touchdowns in loss to the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs in the Peach Bowl.
Stroud passed for 3,340 yards, 37 touchdowns and six interceptions last season. In 2021, he passed for 4,435 yards, 44 touchdowns and six interceptions. He finished his career with 7,775 passing yards, 81 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
“I like Bryce Young better on the tape but I think CJ Stroud is a really good player,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “If you’re not comfortable with that price to go up to get that No. 1 pick? Stay where you are and get CJ Stroud? I would feel just fine about that.”
“I think he is just a pure thrower. The big question with him was, okay, not a lot of off-schedule, not a lot of playmaking. But then all of a sudden you see the semifnal game and you are like, ‘Dude, where has this been?’ He showed you he has that ability. The old scouting adage is if you can do it once, you can do it. So you know he does have that ability.”
Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.