Texans hold key to NFL Draft projections
FEB 24, 2014 9:17p ET
If the Houston Texans know who they plan to select with the first pick in May's NFL Draft, they aren't saying.
So we wait. Everybody waits, most importantly the teams picking directly behind the Texans.
The close of the NFL Scouting Combine Tuesday in Indianapolis marks a turn towards the home stretch of the draft process. March means pro days, which precede private workouts and formal visits and the real juicy and/or silly stuff -- depending on the day and your perspective -- that comes with the wait for the draft, a wait that this year is longer than ever.
At the combine, the Texans said they're in no hurry to finalize anything.
Which holds up just about everything.
"We're only a month and a half into this process and I think that's important," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said at the combine. "What people need to understand is it takes a long time. It's not something that you develop your thoughts right away, overnight. These are a lot of discussions, meetings, communication between (general manager) Rick (Smith) and myself, the coaching staff, Rick's staff, the scouts and all those things that go into this decision and that's what we're in the process of doing."
The first thing St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead said when asked about the possibility that his team would trade out of the No. 2 pick like it did two years ago was that in 2012, everyone knew Andrew Luck would go No. 1 and the chase was for the rights to draft Robert Griffin III.
"This year," Snead said, "we don't leave Indianapolis knowing who No. 1 will be."
Asked if the Texans had even narrowed their thinking to a pool of four to six players, O'Brien twice said no.
So, based on buzz and quotes/evaluations from those who do this for a living, we take a quick look at the candidates to be No. 1 -- first assuming the Texans keep the pick after a miserable 2-14 season -- and how they might fit. It's hard to believe O'Brien was telling the whole truth about not having the decision somewhat narrowed down, but every draft is different. And the Texans certainly are in a unique situation.
Before crashing to 2-14, the Texans had won two straight division titles. Theirs is still a talented roster; it's suddenly one without a real answer at quarterback.
Atop the wish list, presumably, is a quarterback. But which one? The consensus leaving Indianapolis is that Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is the most NFL ready of the top group that also includes Central Florida's Blake Bortles and Texas A&M's Johhny Manziel. Bortles seems to be the newest, fastest-rising of the prospects -- and maybe the furthest from being ready to play.
That's for the Texans to decide.
O'Brien's background is with big, big-armed pocket passers. That points to Bortles. Or possibly to Bridgewater. Manziel is from Texas, has said the Texans passing on him "would be the biggest mistake they've ever made," and in Indianapolis said the Texans having the No. 1 pick is "a dream come true."
Asked if there's any credence to the the thought that Bortles is O'Brien's type of player, the coach dismissed the thought.
"I look for what's best for the team," he said.
Conventional thinking says the Texans take a quarterback; history says so, too. Playing in the same division with Luck says South Carolina superfreak Jadeveon Clowney and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack are realistic possibilities, also.
Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson could be a possibility, but teams don't generally spend such premium picks on right tackles. Texans left tackle Duane Brown signed a contract extension last summer and went to the Pro Bowl last season.
The 2013 Texans finished 31st in points scored, so they need help in lots of places. They used a first-round pick last season on Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins to pair with veteran receiver Andre Johnson, all but ruling out the possibility they use the No. 1 overall pick on Clemson's Sammy Watkins or another receiver.
"We just introduced the process to our coaches and they have a say," Smith said in Indianapolis. "Again, this (combine) is part of it, while it's just a part, it is an important part of it. The medical piece is an important part of it as well. So it's not narrowed down. We don't have that kind of focus just yet."
That means the Rams, the Jaguars at No. 3, the Browns at No. 4 and teams on down the list are playing both the guessing game and the waiting game. Until the Texans offer a hint or even a lean, it's hard to offer much of an educated guess on what the Jaguars or Browns might want or have to do.
The combine is just about over, but it's still a long, long way to May.
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