Both the Washington Redskins and the New England Patriots have a similar goal this offseason: they both want to attain second round picks for their backup quarterbacks. As reported by Mark Maske of the Washington Post, the Redskins would like a second round pick in return for the services of Kirk Cousins. Similarly, Ian Rapoport reported that the Patriots would also like a second round pick for their backup quarterback Ryan Mallett.
The Houston Texans are in desperate need of a quarterback after a season in which quarterback play was inconsistent, below average, and at times almost unbearable to watch. Because of this the Texans may be looking to draft their franchise quarterback with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. Many prognosticators predict that the Texans will use this pick to take Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, or Johnny Manziel. However, many Texans fans are wondering if this really is the best option for the franchise. Although each of these quarterbacks have their strengths, they also have big weaknesses and are not viewed as sure things like Andrew Luck was in the 2012 draft. Bridgewater has been labeled as too small and many scouts knock him for the lack of competition he faced while at Louisville (which is not his fault, but when he did play better competition he performed exceptionally well). Scouts view Bortles as a project who is not ready to contribute from day one. Manziel’s durability and pocket presence at the next level are being questioned daily as scouts pour over game film. Although the Texans’ coaching staff will do their due diligence in scouting each quarterback prospect, it is very possible to think that they may go in the same direction that they did in 2006 by drafting a standout defensive end in Jadeveon Clowney. Or they may trade back, stockpile draft picks, and still take a quarterback of their choice in the first or second round. They also could make a bold move pre-draft and trade for an already experienced NFL quarterback, such as Mallett or Cousins. This would allow the franchise the opportunity to draft the best player available instead of drafting a position of need. While all these options are on the table, they are all just conjectures and hypotheticals at this point. Hypotheticals are fun to play with, so for this article we will look at the background of both Mallett and Cousins, what they could bring to the Texans, and if it is reasonable to think that the Texans would really trade for either of them.
Ryan Mallett is a fourth year NFL quarterback from the University of Arkansas and has served as Tom Brady’s primary backup. Mallet measures in at 6’6 and 245 pounds, which makes him one of the largest quarterbacks in the league. This is also his last season under his rookie contract. Although Mallet has been in the league for three years, he has never thrown any meaningful passes so far in his career. In total, he has thrown FOUR, yes, FOUR passes in regular season games in his career. Bill O’Brien, the Houston Texans’ head coach, does have some background with Mallett since O’Brien was still on staff with the Patriots when they drafted him in the third round of the 2011 draft. However, O’Brien never had the opportunity to work with Mallett since he accepted the Penn State job. Mallett does know the Patriots’ playbook front and back from being under their system for three years and O’Brien’s offensive system is very much the same as the Patriots in that they both focus on the underneath passing game and rely on quick passes to advance the ball down the field. O’Brien also prefers bigger quarterbacks. Everything considered, I do think that Mallett has the physical tools to succeed as a starting quarterback in the NFL. The problem is that he does not have the experience to warrant a second round pick from a team like the Texans. The Texans need to bring someone in that they can build their franchise around and can bring stability to the quarterback position. In my opinion, Mallett just does not have the pedigree nor the experience to risk the franchise’s future on.
Kirk Cousins is a third year NFL quarterback from Michigan State University and has served as Robert Griffin III’s backup the past two seasons. Cousins measures in at 6’3 and 209 pounds, which makes him physically average in comparison with other NFL quarterbacks. Unlike Mallett, Cousins actually has played a few meaningful games over his short career. Cousins has started four games in the past two seasons in which he threw for a total of four touchdowns and six interceptions and had a 56.9% completion percentage and a 68.8 quarterback rating. While these are not necessarily gaudy statistics, Cousins has shown that he is capable of running a football team and being a leader. Cousins’ career and story actually compares pretty well with current (probably not for much longer) Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. Schaub, who was Michael Vick’s backup in Atlanta, only started two games in three seasons with the team. Despite not winning either of the games and not putting up out of this world numbers, the rest of the league saw that Schaub had the potential to be a franchise quarterback. Houston quickly traded for Schaub and Atlanta received two second round picks and the teams swapped first round picks for that season. Cousins has shown extreme patience sitting behind Robert Griffin III and he wants a shot at a starting gig somewhere in the league. Personally, I think if the Texans did trade for either Mallett or Cousins, Cousins would be the overwhelming favorite. Is Cousins worth a second round pick? Absolutely, but not with this current Texans team. If Gary Kubiak was still in Houston and the Texans were running his West Coast offense that thrives on play-action bootlegs (virtually the same offense that the Redskins run when Cousins was under center), then I think it would be extremely smart for the Texans to pull the trigger on Cousins. However, Kubiak is now with the Baltimore Ravens and O’Brien has been brought in with a new offensive scheme that will be adapted on a week to week basis.
In my opinion, while it is plausible that the Texans may trade for either quarterback, the Texans would be best suited drafting a quarterback that they absolutely love with their first overall pick. By doing so, the Texans would have a young quarterback that hopefully would be the franchise player for years to come. Although starting a rookie quarterback is risky and does not often result in immediate success, it is the best option the team to have success in the present and the future. The thought of having Cousins or Mallett as the next quarterback for the Texans is reasonable, but it is not the best course of action the franchise could take.