CJ Stroud drafted second overall by Houston, two other Buckeyes picked in first round
The Houston Texans made a splash in the NFL draft Thursday night, getting their franchise quarterback by drafting C.J. Stroud at No. 2.
OSU offensive tackle Paris Johnson Junior went four picks later to the Arizona Cardinals, and former Buckeye wide receiver Jackson Smith-Njigba went with the 20th pick to the Seattle Seahawks.
Just after picking Stroud, Houston traded with Arizona to get the third overall pick and beef up their defense with Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr..
The picks were greeted with elation from thousands of Texans fans who gathered in downtown Houston for a draft party featuring a rap concert Thursday night.
General manager Nick Caserio was quick to note that this was just one step on a long process.
“If the fans are excited, that’s great,” he said. “I think they’ll be more excited when we win games. We’re a long way away from playing our first game here in September.”
Stroud was a two-year starter for Ohio State, where he threw for 8,123 yards with 85 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions as the Buckeyes went 21-4. His 85 touchdowns over two seasons broke a Big Ten record held by Drew Brees.
“I know that it’s meant to be,” Stroud said. “And I know that, with this franchise, it’s going be something that I’m really going to take very, very seriously and I’m going to work my tail off to get some wins.”
Stroud joins a team that has failed to find a reliable quarterback in the two seasons since Deshaun Watson requested a trade before being traded to the Cleveland Browns. Davis Mills has started most of the last two seasons, going 5-22-1 in 28 games with 26 starts as the Texans were among the NFL’s worst teams.
Caserio wouldn't say that Stroud or Anderson would move into the starting lineup right away.
“In the future days here they have to earn the respect and the trust of their teammates,” he said. “They haven’t really earned anything to this point and they’re certainly not entitled to anything.”
But he did rave about the signal-caller.
“C.J. was a really productive player,” Caserio said. “He’s a player that has an edge about him in a good way. He loves football, wants to compete, wants to be great, good size, comes from a good program.”
Stroud was asked about dealing with the expectations of being a franchise quarterback.
“I don’t believe in pressure,” he said. “I think you either do it or you don’t.”
The 6-3, 218-pound Stroud becomes the third quarterback Houston has selected in the first round, joining Watson, taken 12th in 2017 and David Carr, the team’s first draft pick who was the top overall pick in 2002.
Cards select OT Paris Johnson at No. 6 after multiple trades
Paris Johnson thought he had a few free moments at the NFL draft, so he took a quick bathroom break.
By the time he emerged, he was a member of the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals selected the Ohio State offensive lineman with the No. 6 overall selection on Thursday night, capping a whirlwind start to the draft for new general manager Monti Ossenfort.
Johnson’s arrival gives the Cardinals a potential franchise cornerstone who can protect quarterback Kyler Murray for years to come.
“They’ll be getting a guy that is violent, fast and physical," Johnson said. “Those are the three rules in my game every time I step on the field. They’re getting a great teammate that wants to take care of my quarterback.”
The move capped an active evening for the Cardinals, who started the night with the No. 3 overall selection but traded it to the Houston Texans for the No. 12 and No. 33 selections in this year’s draft and a first- and third-round pick in next year’s draft.
Ossenfort almost immediately flipped the No. 12 and also sent the No. 34 pick to the Detroit Lions so the Cardinals could select Johnson, who should immediately bolster the offensive line.
“I’m not going to lie — it was exciting, it was awesome, that was fun,” Ossenfort said of the flurry of deals. "But I’ll tell you what, I had a lot of help in there.”
Johnson said he knew he might be coming to the Cardinals because his pre-draft interactions with the team went so well. Arizona selected the offensive lineman 24 years after they picked his dad in the fifth round of the 1999 draft. Paris Johnson Sr. — a safety — never played in an NFL game.
Seahawks take Smith-Njigba at No. 20
Seattle used its second selection in the first round with the No. 20 pick and grabbed another offensive playmaker for quarterback Geno Smith selecting Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the first wide receiver taken in the draft.
The Seahawk’s selection of Smith-Ngiba was the start of a run of four consecutive wideouts being chosen for the first time in the first round. Quentin Johnson went to the Chargers. Zay Flowers was chosen by Baltimore and the Vikings selected Jordan Addison.
Smith-Njigba became the third Ohio State receiver selected in the first round in the last two seasons, joining Olave (New Orleans) and Wilson (New York Jets).