HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – Between National Signing Day for high school players planning to attend the college of their choice and the upcoming NFL combine and draft, the spirit of football is alive and well in America. Besides, with NFL teams posturing for the Draft, there’s plenty to discuss. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is a lightning bolt for discussion. So, let’s start there.
The Houston Texans have the first pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. The discussion is hot and heavy on who will be that first pick. There are those who say drafting A&M’s Johnny Manziel should be a ‘no-brainer’. Interesting. There’s also the other side who say the Texans should trade down. Regardless, we’re fairly certain one of those first three picks will be a quarterback. That’s where the debate is squarely centered.
According to Russ Lande of Sports on Earth, new Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien is not sold on Manziel’s work ethic. That poses a slight problem if you want the Texans to draft Johnny and the head coach is not sold. If you’re a born and bred Texan high on emotion and firm on the belief that a Texas team should draft a Texas guy, you might feel just a little anxious right now. If that describes you, it’s totally understandable. But, please keep in mind that the Texans are more concerned with winning football games versus drafting their in-state heroes. At least, that’s our understanding.
There’s little question that Johnny Manziel is every bit the player advertised, former Heisman winner, unquestionably talented, a guy who believes he can beat the competition no matter the size advantage, hates to lose, and has lots of fire, a true competitor. But, the Texans must answer these questions. Is Johnny ‘Football’ the best option for the Texans and can he be the face of the franchise for years to come. There’s also the matter of value, a word GM Rick Smith uses regularly when discussing players.
Having the first pick in the draft puts the Texans in an enviable but dangerous position. They have options but must make the right decision. Do they keep the pick or trade down? Making the situation more tenuous, Texans owner Bob McNair has indicated he likes Manziel. So, O’Brien has tough challenges ahead. But, at least there are other talented quarterbacks in the draft.
It’s been rumored that O’Brien likes Blake Bortles of Central Florida. But, Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville and Fresno State’s Derek Carr are also options, maybe.
Speaking of options, CBS College Football Today lead studio analyst, Spencer Tillman, thinks the Texans should aim for value.
“I don’t think they utilize that pick on ‘a’ draft pick,” says Tillman. “The wise call, from my perspective, would be to trade down for volume. Seattle does not have a lot of high draft picks on their young team.”
That’s a valid point. Seattle’s Red Bryant was a 4th rounder from Texas A&M while Chris Clemons was undrafted. Six-foot-3, 232-pound safety Cam Chancellor was drafted in the 5th round out of Virginia Tech. Richard Sherman was a 5th round pick from Stanford and second-year quarterback Russell Wilson was drafted in the third round.
Because of where many of the Seahawks were drafted, Tillman understands that added incentive to play well. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Houston Oilers in 1987, but went on to help the San Francisco 49ers win Super Bowl XXIV .
“They have an excellent mix of youth and chip-on-the-shoulder middle-rounders who understand how privileged they are to be in the uniform.”
LONG TERM IMPACT
This is definitely gut-check time for a franchise in need of a big play on draft day. This, at minimum, is a 10-year decision. They can win big or lose mightily on Thursday, May 9, 2014. But, even after the pick is made, uncertainty abounds which will require patience from all sides. The timelines listed below reinforce our position.
The Texans played their first official NFL game in 2002. They finished 9-7 in 2009 for their first winning season in franchise history.
The Texans established other franchise firsts during 2011. They set a season franchise record with 10 wins and won the AFC South following a 20-19 comeback win on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Texans would advance to defeat those same Bengals 31-10 in their first ever playoff game.
The 2012 season saw the Texans set another franchise record with 12 wins. However, 2013 was disastrous as the Texans would struggle to win 2 games. This is why they hold the first pick and why the debate continues to be one of the most trending topics in sports. Regardless, the Texans brass must ignore the public voices and listen to their own while making such a critical decision.
Problem is, the voices in their heads probably can’t agree. One is saying ‘trade down’ while the other is saying ‘draft Johnny’. The question is which voice will resonate the loudest on draft day.
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