Deciphering Bill O’Brien’s Recent Comments on Rookie Quarterbacks

For the past few months, numerous draft analysts, mock pundits, and bloggers have pegged the Houston Texans as selecting a quarterback with their first overall pick.  Many believe that head coach Bill O’Brien is leaning towards picking Blake Bortles due to his physical stature, high potential, and connection with George O’Leary, who O’Brien previously worked under.  Others think that Johnny Manziel is the right pick for the Texans due to his Texan roots and eye-popping play making ability.  However, O’Brien shed light on the Texans and their ongoing process that they are advancing through as draft day inches closer and closer.  In an interview with NFL Network, O’Brien said,

“I don’t think there’s any question we’ll draft a quarterback. Where we’ll draft that quarterback, I don’t think we know that yet.  We’re still in the process of studying all these prospects and in the process of putting a grade on them and trying to place them where they’ll be in the draft.  There’s not a lot of separation, and there are more quarterbacks than just three.  The three guys everybody talks about — Blake, Teddy [Bridgewater] and Johnny [Manziel] — those guys are good players, have had great college careers. But there are other guys out there. You’ve got [A.J.] McCarron, you’ve got [Zach] Mettenberger, you’ve got Logan Thomas, you’ve got [Tom] Savage, you’ve got [Jimmy] Garoppolo, I could go right down the list.”

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This is an interesting development coming directly from O’Brien.  Although many believe Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, and Teddy Bridgewater are the only three quarterbacks in the “first-tier” of rookie quarterbacks this draft, O’Brien seemingly suggests that there are no tiers.  If O’Brien and company truly believe that there is not much separation between Bortles, Manziel, and Bridgewater and guys like Mettenberger, Savage, Garoppolo, etc., then why would the Texans even look at drafting a quarterback with their first overall pick if, in their eyes, the quarterbacks that will be available later are just slightly less talented?  Building off this idea, what if the quarterback prospect that the Texans covet most ends up being available in the third round and they wait until then to draft him?  How would Texans fans react to that?

Many stress that quarterback is the Texans number one need, a sentiment that I firmly support, but that does not mean that they are pigeon-holed into taking one with their first pick, especially if the they do not see much of a gap between each quarterback.  Of course, this could just be O’Brien putting on a show for the media and blowing a bunch of smoke.  However, I do believe that O’Brien and the Texans are not leaning towards a specific quarterback at the moment and will not do so until they have paid their due diligence to each prospect.  The value of the first overall pick can not be overstated, so the Texans can not mess this up.  If they are serious about fielding the best possible team this season, then they should draft Jadeveon Clowney and his once in a generation talent and hold off drafting their quarterback until the second or third round.  If they do end up selecting a quarterback with their first pick, at this point I have a feeling that it will end up being Blake Bortles.  In the end, Bill O’Brien and Rick Smith are professionals who are getting paid to make these hard decisions, so I trust their judgment in making this difficult choice.

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