Photo by Brandon Jones, TexAgs.com

Why the Texans' first pick should be obvious

By Olin Buchanan

More from Olin
January 9, 2014
7087

The Houston Texans are on the clock.

They’re also on the spot.

The Texans own the first selection in the 2014 NFL Draft. They need a quarterback. Coincidentally, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the most exciting player in college football, has declared for early entry into the draft.

Yet, most draft analysts rate Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who also has declared for the draft, as the most desirable option.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images Bridgewater is popularly viewed as the overwhelming favorite to earn the No. 1 selection, but Manziel provides many factors he lacks. {"Module":"photo","Alignment":"right","Size":"large","Caption":"Bridgewater is popularly viewed as the overwhelming favorite to earn the No. 1 selection, but Manziel provides many factors he lacks.","MediaItemID":34167}
Also, lately the draft stock has soared for Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, who also declared for early entry.

So who will the Texans select with the first pick on May 8? Or will they even have the first selection? Some have suggested the Texans will trade down, pick up another draft choice or two and still be in a position to take another quarterback.

There are a lot of quarterbacks. But there is only one Johnny Manziel.

Yes, the word is that Bridgewater is the most NFL-ready among the quarterbacks. He is indeed a fine quarterback who passed for nearly 4,000 yards last season. But he doesn’t have the running ability or the uncanny knack for making plays off schedule that Manziel does.

Some think Bortles would be a fitter fit for the offense of new Texans coach Bill O’Brien. Also, Mike Huguenin of NFL.com told Gabe Bock and myself on TexAgs Radio that O’Brien has a close relationship with UCF coach George O’Leary, who will surely give Bortles a glowing recommendation.

Might that influence the Texans’ decision?

It should not.

The Texans should just announce Manziel as their selection now and let the St. Louis Rams, who have the second pick, go on the clock. By the way, there’s a great chance the Rams would select A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews with the second pick.

Yes, the Aggies could have the first two players selected. But, of course, that would require producing the first selection. No Aggie has ever been the first overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Of course, no freshman had ever won the Heisman Trophy until Manziel did, so he has a way of breaking new ground.

There are a number of reasons why Texans general manager Rick Smith should select Manziel. He’s a much better pocket passer than many realize. He’s extremely smart and has the ability to read defenses. Manziel also has more than adequate arm strength, which he demonstrated in the Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over Duke with an NFL-type deep sideline throw to Malcome Kennedy and a 44-yard touchdown pass to Derel Walker.

TexAgs Most of the knocks on Manziel seem to have little actual study of his style of play behind them and ignore his unique natural talents. {"Module":"photo","Alignment":"left","Size":"large","Caption":"Most of the knocks on Manziel seem to have little actual study of his style of play behind them and ignore his unique natural talents.","MediaItemID":36932}
He obviously has great running ability, too. Don’t forget he rushed for 1,410 yards in 2012 to lead the vaunted SEC. He also has the leadership skills to make players around him better and rally his team for come-from-behind victories, which he did against Duke and twice against Ole Miss.

Manziel has a great ability to sense pressure and avoid tacklers in the pocket. I wonder if a study might reveal he has greater peripheral vision than most people. That would explain it.

Still, there are knocks against him. Most seem to enter around his size, which is listed at 6-feet-1, 200-pounds. In actuality, players about his size — Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Doug Flutie, Michael Vick — have been successful in the NFL.

Yet, some remain skeptical about Manziel’s durability because they seem to see him as frail.

First of all, bigger guys get hurt, too. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed several games this season. Secondly, even at his slight size Manziel’s elusiveness makes him less likely to be injured than a big guy who cannot move and avoid blitzing linebackers.

That shouldn’t be an issue.

Another reason the Texans should select Manziel is that his presence would increase their popularity. The only period of my lifetime when a Houston franchise came close to rivaling the Dallas Cowboys for popularity in Texas was the late ‘70s and early ‘80s when Earl Campbell was starring for the Oilers.

Texas fans like to see Texas players playing in Texas. Manziel, like Campbell a legendary state figure, could have the same impact and draw more fans away from the Cowboys to the Texans.

True, the Texans were in a similar situation in 2006 when they could have drafted Texas quarterback Vince Young, but instead (and correctly) selected North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams. However, Young’s passing motion was a concern. So was the fact he might struggle with the mental aspect of playing quarterback in the NFL.

TexAgs The Texans face a sizeable risk of missing out on a superstar made in their own state and forever regretting it. {"Module":"photo","Alignment":"right","Size":"large","Caption":"The Texans face a sizeable risk of missing out on a superstar made in their own state and forever regretting it.","MediaItemID":35708}
Neither of those are issues for Manziel.

But perhaps the main reason the Texans should take Manziel is that it may be a greater risk not to select him.

All is well if they select Bridgewater or Bortles and they become great players. But what if they are merely average, while Manziel develops into a star for the Jaguars, Browns or Vikings?

Then, you become the NFL’s version of Stu Inman, the old Portland Trailblazers general manager who selected Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan.

The Texans are in a position to take perhaps the most spectacular quarterback of all time to fill their primary need. And he’s playing in their own back yard. 

If the Texans pass him up and Manziel becomes a star, then they’ll be viewed as knuckleheads or blockheads — or some other kind of creative description.
Discussion from...

Why the Texans' first pick should be obvious

This is one lifelong Cowboys fan who is ready to throw in the towel on that organization. A Texans team with Johnny would convert me to a Texans fan.

It seems the risk for the Texans is so great for not picking Johnny first. If he fails...so do plenty of other high draft picks, you move on. But if he clicks...the sky's the limit. I hope they don't try to over think this pick....unless of course that means they trade it to the Cowboys! (Nah, wouldn't want to wish that on Johnny)
Article is spot on!!! Come on Texans.
Manziel could tear up the NFL with Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Owen Daniels as receiving weapons. He'd be in a much better situation for making the most of his incredible skill in Houston than say somewhere like Cleveland.

Also the Texans have serious holes on the offensive line. They need to do something about Newton (find a replacement). But with Manziel's mobility, their pressing concerns on the offensive line become less of an issue. Maybe they could wait a year to address that problem (in the draft) and hit some of their other areas of concern (they need a safety, linebacker, among other things).
chris1515 nails it for me, too: long-time suffering Dallas Cowboys fan who can no longer stand Jerry Jones blinding arrogance. If the Houston Texans draft Johnny, I'm officially converting my allegiance.

Thanks, Olin. Nice job on this article (and your other ones, too! )
Dead on cris1515 & Cotton79. I've tried but they are losing me.Cowboys are too entitled & satisfied with their lot to be competitive. Maybe Johnny can instill some fire back in them. But I think not.
If he goes to the Texans, then so do I.
There would be many Aggies who have been long time Cowboys fans that would jump ship if JFF went to Houston.

Jerry has given us no reason to remain loyal and JFF gives us every reason to believe he could bring the Lombardi back to Texas.
As an Aggie and Texan fan, I want them to take Johnny. Most of what I've read so far leads me to believe that if the draft were to take place today, then the Texans would select Teddy. However, I think Johnny is going to impress a lot of people at the combine, which could be a huge deciding factor.
Don't think the Texans would take Johnny #1. It still looks like Cleveland.
quote:
There are a lot of quarterbacks. But there is only one Johnny Manziel.


All there needed to be said. Another great article Olin, thank you!
Great article. Yes, he is a terrific player. As a resident of the Houston area, I'm ambivalent about spending the first pick on him. Why? Due to his size I question his durability. I can tell you now, if he tries that hurdling play he used against Duke, or tries to run through a defender like he did against Auburn, he is going to have a short pro career. One of keys for him being successful is that he must recognize his limits. He should rush sparingly at the next level and avoid direct hits. He should slide more. He has to realize that the NFL is loaded with players who are way faster and stronger than college players and those guys will seriously injure him when they make plays.

Let's take a frank view of the situation. The #1 pick in the draft is usually a low risk pick. JFF is high risk, not due to talent (he has worlds of that) but due to the question of his durability. So my question to Mr. McNair is, do you want to roll the dice? The pay off could be absolutely unreal. But then again, it could be a disaster because the pick does not have a lasting career.

Is JFF an all world player (which he is at the collegiate level) when (unlike in college) he will be unable to play with reckless abandon to his own body? That is the 64 thousand dollar question.

[This message has been edited by Eagle78 (edited 1/10/2014 9:15p).]

[This message has been edited by Eagle78 (edited 1/10/2014 9:28p).]

[This message has been edited by Eagle78 (edited 1/10/2014 9:29p).]
I'm not sure the first pick is always such a home run.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_first_overall_National_Football_League_draft_picks

I've always thought of the Texans as the fourth most relevant team in the state, behind the cowboys, horns and Aggies. Johnny would bump them up a notch or two IMO. If he was from California and had played at Stanford or some place, I don't think they should take him first. But he's from Texas and has played just down the road for the last two years and comes with a huge built in fan base. I think the potential upside is just too big to be ignored.

I sure don't want to have to be flipping channels on Sunday hoping I can find the Browns game.
Wount the Texans sandbag their JFF first pick untill the last?
Sounds like draft where everyone wanted texans to take vince young.
quote:
This is one lifelong Cowboys fan who is ready to throw in the towel on that organization. A Texans team with Johnny would convert me to a Texans fan.

It seems the risk for the Texans is so great for not picking Johnny first. If he fails...so do plenty of other high draft picks, you move on. But if he clicks...the sky's the limit. I hope they don't try to over think this pick....unless of course that means they trade it to the Cowboys! (Nah, wouldn't want to wish that on Johnny)


+1
Exactly. If Obie passes on Johnny, that could be like passing on MJ for Sam Bowie.

Johnny set records in the SEC. What in the hell has Bortles done? He "looks" more like a NFL quarterback? Has Obie never heard of Russell Wilson?

I guess we will see if Obie goes full retard and selects Bortles, and if McNair lacks the cojones to be the boss man and veto him.

[This message has been edited by AgBeliever (edited 1/12/2014 8:01p).]
I always thought the object of a NFL owner was to fill stadiums. You did that by winning (which the Texans lost that play book this year) and putting players fans wanted to see on the field. With JFF, the Texans should have a waiting list of Aggies clammering to pay for season tickets. I know the gate doesn't begin to pay all the excessive salaries of the NFL but it sure helps, and Reliant would be filled to the rafters I would suspect with JFF on the field either playing or on the sideline ready to.
I agree Signem, which is probably why McNair loves Johnny.

Of course, Obie prefers Bortles because he looks more the part.

I think Obie is about the become the Jerry Jones of Houston if McNair does not override Obie.
Pick JFF
quote:
Sounds like draft where everyone wanted texans to take vince young.

Except unlike Vints, Johnny can actually throw the ball.
I still worry about Johnny's durability but I don't see him failing as a QB.
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