What’s the most discouraging aspect of this downtrodden 2013 season for the Houston Texans?
There’s no doubt it’s the stark realization that this franchise, one with 22 wins and two AFC South titles the two previous seasons, no longer has a franchise quarterback capable of leading this team to the promised land. Fortunately, the 2014 NFL Draft can provide a remedy to their problems.
Matt Schaub, the starting QB of the Texans since 2007, is the greatest QB in the history of the franchise. No one can or will deny that, and the numbers undoubtedly prove that. Unfortunately, the time has come for the team to move on from their embroiled former franchise savior, and this has become more and more evident as the weeks go by in the 2013 season and has culminated in his benching in favor of formerly undrafted Case Keenum.
Is Case Keenum the guy? Well, he’s only had one start, and while he’s shown some encouraging signs, he hasn’t done anything to make you confident he’s the next franchise QB.
All of this means the Texans could very well be in the market for a new face of the franchise in the upcoming draft. Luckily, this is one of the deepest classes of QBs we’ve seen in quite some time.
Sitting at 2-5, and with only three games left that look truly winnable, this team could be picking in the top ten for the first time since 2007. If their pick is between 6 and 10, I don’t think they’ll target a QB. The top three QBs (Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley) will all likely be gone in the top 5, and the three next best QBs (Tajh Boyd, Johnny Manziel and Zach Mettenberger) aren’t quite worthy of top ten picks, more like middle and late first rounders. So if the top three are off the board and the Texans don’t trade down, I’d say they take a hard look at Notre Dame NT Louis Nix to pair inside next to superstar end J.J. Watt and find their QB a little later.
If the Texans do trade down, they’ll more than likely still be able to snag one of their targeted QBs in the back half of round one and also get a couple extra picks in the middle rounds. If they don’t trade down and don’t take a QB in round one they’ll still have a good selection in round two. Derek Carr, A.J. McCarron and Aaron Murray all will still be on the board in the beginning of round two, and all of them are very talented signal callers.
Which QB prospect would be the best fit with Houston? Coach Gary Kubiak‘s offense has historically been based off the Mike Shanahan offense — which is to say it’s a lot of zone-blocking, counters, play-action, boots, etc. A QB with a little mobility who can throw on the run (an option that’s never really been available with the stone-footed Schaub) is the ideal candidate.
Mariota and Hundley both offer the big, dual-threat capabilities that fit the Texans offense, but like I said earlier they will probably be gone by the time Houston picks. This leads me to Manziel, the lightning rod of college football since early 2012.
Manziel has the speed and playmaking ability the Texans (or any other NFL team) would love to have. He doesn’t quite have the arm strength you look for in top-flight professional passers, but good coaches can help mask that deficiency. Manziel would also help re-ignite a frustrated fan base (born and raised Texan, and a legend in local Texas A&M‘s illustrious history). Perhaps the biggest asset he’d provide is the spark inside the huddle the Texans have been lacking. His electric personality may be frowned upon by administrators and media pundits, but I still haven’t heard of a teammate of his who wouldn’t go through a wall for him.
Would they take Manziel in the top ten? Possibly. There’s no price too high when you’re certain you found your guy.
This is all speculation, of course. We don’t know for certain which QBs the Texans will be targeting or even if they will be targeting a QB (they will). But they should at least feel confident that there will be some good options for them to choose from next May.