Offseason Blueprint: Four Priorities for the Texans
|Now on the clock...|
Want a Hall of Famer? It's fairly obvious that taking a first-round quarterback -- the best available in the view of Rick Smith and the new coach -- gives the Texans the best shot at that possibility. But even if the drafted QB isn't quite a Hall of Famer, he can still fit the modern NFL model by merely being a "pretty good" starter. That's because an affordable initial contract allows those teams to better fill out their roster with surrounding talent.
What doesn't work at quarterback is paying big bucks on a veteran that isn't elite. That's the road the Texans have just been down with Schaub, and one they must avoid with Jay Cutler or other potential free-agent options. Even if the Texans could conceivably afford it, they'd be much better off spending that money on other holes (offensive line, linebacker, secondary) and finding comparably cheaper QB production from the draft.
The other factor to remember is that the Texans are more than one piece away. Some have argued that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is the most "sure thing" prospect in the 2014 draft. Great, but what does that mean for winning? The Texans already have J.J. Watt, the best defensive lineman in the NFL, in his prime -- and just finished a season at 2-14 in which Watt played every game.
The driving force for the No. 1 pick should be what gives the Texans the best opportunity to win a championship. It shouldn't be playing it safe and simply trying not to bust. The Texans say they want a quick rebuild and a change in culture. For that to happen, it starts with a defined leader at the game's most critical position -- and defensive end isn't it.
Quarterback play was the catalyst that expedited Houston's faster-than-expected decline from AFC South champion to 2-14. Similarly, it's also the key to bringing them back. Maybe it'll be Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville. Maybe it's Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel. Just pick the best available and build around him.
Whoever it may be, the Texans have a golden opportunity over the next four months and shouldn't overthink it. Rick Smith can have his pick of the litter at the game's most important position, all on relatively-friendly contract terms.
A true franchise quarterback has eluded the Texans for their entire existence, and there will never be a better opportunity for the Texans to take their next shot.