During the 2023 NFL draft, the Houston Texans selected C.J. Stroud with the second overall pick. However, they shocked the football world by trading up with the Arizona Cardinals for the third overall selection. As Houston received Arizona’s first and third-round picks last year, the Texans gave up their first and second-rounders last year and first and third-rounders in this year’s draft.

The Texans used that pick for Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. While it’s uncertain how they will pan out during their rookie season, their excellence validated the decisions made by head coach DeMeco Ryans and general manager Nick Caserio.

Stroud won this season’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award after finishing the regular season with 319 completions for 4,108 yards and 23 touchdowns. He threw only five interceptions and completed 63.9 percent of his throws.

Stroud was also magnificent during his first-ever NFL playoff game, tallying 16 completions for 274 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions against the Cleveland Browns.

Meanwhile, Anderson Jr. was this season’s Defensive Rookie of the Year after tallying 29 solo tackles and seven sacks. He had four sacks in two games in Week 16 (against the Denver Broncos) and Week 17 (versus the Tennessee Titans). He had a sack and three tackles against the Browns.

Unfortunately, their season ended with a Divisional Round loss to the Baltimore Ravens. But the recognition Stroud and Anderson Jr. received gives the Texans a cornerstone they can build on for the future.

-Lance Fernandez