HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – Don’t want to put the cart before the horse as the old saying goes. But, since the head coach is now in place, there are other aspects of the Houston Texans organization to explore, for instance, the product on the field.
New Head Coach Bill O’Brien will need to assemble his coaching staff. Existing coaches, per O’Brien, will get an audience. But, keep in mind that most head coaches, like in any major corporation, will want to bring in their own people. So, expect O’Brien to replace some if not all. Reports have circulated that specific position coaches will be replaced. But, nothing has been made official.
Meanwhile, the NFL draft is set for May 8-10. The Texans have some decisions about the young man they will make their quarterback of the future. There are several choices especially since the Texans will have the first pick in the draft after finishing with the worst record in the league.
Therefore, it will be critical for the Texans to get it right. But, they have other needs besides quarterback. They’re in desperate need of a right tackle, defensive help, whether it’s a linebacker or defensive end, and the Texans also need to add quality depth on both sides of the ball which was exposed when key starters sustained injuries.
But first, let’s dive into the subject that is generating the most attention right now and that is the position of quarterback.
TAKE YOUR PICK, BUT GET IT RIGHT
The quarterbacks that seem to have the attention of the nation are Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, Taj Boyd of Clemson, Blake Bortles of Central Florida, Brett Hundley of UCLA, Marcus Mariotta of Oregon, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, and Fresno State’s Derek Carr. There are others such as Aaron Murray and Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois.
However, Murray is rehabilitating a torn ACL and Lynch’s draft stock will suffer from having played in the Mid-American Conference. Yes, Ben Roethlisberger seems to have had a stellar career after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers out of Miami of Ohio. But, Ben threw for 10,829 yards and 80 touchdowns as a collegiate quarterback while Lynch passed for 6,209 yards, 51 touchdowns and rushed for 4343 yards and 48 touchdowns. That’s outstanding, but Lynch has the reputation of being more of a runner than a passer. The NFL wants passing quarterbacks that can run.
So, that leads us to Louisville’s junior QB Teddy Bridgewater. Can’t help but like everything about him. Bridgewater finished his career 30-9 and helped his Cardinals win 2 of 3 bowl games. The 2012-13 Sugar Bowl win over Florida was Bridgewater’s shining moment as he completed 20-of-32 for 266 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception in a 33-23 win.
Louisville and Bridgewater were a game better this season finishing 12-1 after a 36-9 beating of his home state Miami Hurricanes in the Russell Athletic Bowl. It was a storybook ending as Bridgewater was named MVP for his 447 yards and 3 touchdowns performance.
But, the loss to Central Florida gave life to Knights quarterback Blake Bortles who at six-foot-four and 230 pounds draws attention from many teams. But, it was the redshirt junior’s performance on center stage that has quickly elevated his status in the upcoming draft.
Central Florida defeated Louisville 38-35 with Bortles as the trigger man finishing 21-of-32 for 250 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. What was really impressive about him was his ability to feel the pressure and get out of would-be sacks with his legs. The same was evident in the Knight’s 52-42 upset of Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. Bortles was ‘Mr. Escape ‘as he unleashed for 301 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions on 20-of-31 passing.
But, when talking escape-ability, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel leads the bunch. He is arguably the most talented quarterback of the names mentioned. We’ve seen him do the spectacular which is why he won the Heisman in 2012 and was invited back to New York in 2013. Question is, would Manziel be a good fit for O’Brien’s new offense?
We’re not quite sure what offense O’Brien will deploy. But, it’s safe to assume that he wants a quarterback who is accurate, one who makes good decisions on and off the field, a quarterback who is disciplined, tough, and can make plays.
Like Manziel, Hundley and Mariotta will have to decide on whether or not to leave school early for the draft. If they do, that adds more talent to an already talented pool of QB’s. They can make plays and so can Boyd, Carr, and McCarron.
Speaking of McCarron, Alabama didn’t fare well in their 45-31 loss to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. The Sooners were dominant on offense as redshirt freshman Trevor Knight displayed the performance of the evening. He was 32-of-44 for 348 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. From long distance, McCarron was overshadowed by that performance. It didn’t help that he got little protection from his offensive line and displayed a lack of pressure awareness and the ability to elude the pass rush.
Certainly, one game does not make a career and McCarron has had a tremendous college career. It could be argued that of the great Alabama Quarterbacks, including Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, Jeff Rutledge, and Brodie Croyle, McCarron could easily be considered that best of them all having won 2 national championships and having only lost 4 games his entire college career. He’s a winner and appears to exemplify the type person a team would want as their leader on and off the field.
The Houston Texans brain trusts have tough choices to make, and add to that, whether or not to add a veteran quarterback since, more than likely, Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates are done in Houston. That leaves Case Keenum who is waiting in the wings to see where he fits in this new upcoming offensive scheme.
Will the Texans trade the top pick for more talent, or will they use that first pick on a quarterback? That is the question.