With a little over two months to go until the NFL Draft, the Houston Texans are widely thought to be deciding between three very good but flawed quarterback prospects in Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles. Rick Smith, Bill O’Brien and the rest of the Texans front office are hoping to fall in love with one of these prospects. However, it’s more likely they are going to have to make a tough call to either take the best player available or roll the dice on a quarterback.
When Charley Casserly was selecting between David Carr and Julius Peppers in the 2002 Draft, the argument could have been made for Peppers. The Texans were building a new team and the quarterback position has a high failure rate so maybe taking Peppers would have made sense. We all know what happened next, but the call to go with Carr was hard to criticize because there was almost no doubt they were the two best prospects.
Casserly would be in the same position a few years later. This time around, the Texans hired a new coach in Gary Kubiak who promised to turn around Carr who had been through four years of pure torture behind a battered and inexperienced offensive line. It also was convenient that there was not a sure fire quarterback despite Vince Young homers claiming otherwise. Mario Williams, Reggie Bush and D’Brickashaw Ferguson emerged as the best possible candidates, along with the “fan-favorite” trading down option. The Texans as a whole made a good call going with Williams and passing on Bush.
Fast forward to 2014. While current general manager Rick Smith does not have a franchise quarterback on his roster, he does know taking any of the three available quarterbacks at the top is a massive risk that even if it did eventually pay off he might not be around to witness it. Unlike the two previous first overall picks this year, there is such a clear cut best player in Jadeveon Clowney. However, the Texans also have no incumbent quarterback with Matt Schaub set to be released at some point Bill O’Brien probably not willing to mortgage the future on Case Keenum.
Ultimately I think the Texans end up taking Johnny Manziel and pass on the better prospect in Clowney in hopes that they catch lightning in a bottle. It just won’t be Rick Smith’s decision. The safe move is to have Keenum, a later round rookie and a veteran competing while your impact rookies make plays and make the GM look good. Then again, playing it safe usually never gets anyone more than just to the level of where we were before the 2013 mess.
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