2014 NFL Draft: Can the Houston Texans Afford to Pass on a Quarterback?

Ryan McCrystalFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2014

Former Penn State head coach and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien was named the Houston Texans head coach during a press conference at Reliant Stadium, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)
Patric Schneider/Associated Press

The Houston Texans need a quarterback.

That much can't be debated. Matt Schaub will likely be cut this offseason, leaving Case Keenum and T.J. Yates as the only signal-callers left on Bill O'Brien's depth chart.

And since the top free agents on the market are veterans with little upside, such as Michael Vick and Josh McCown, it's easy to see why the Texans have been linked to quarterbacks with the No. 1 pick in the majority of mock drafts around the Internet.

But there's a significant difference between needing a quarterback and needing to force yourself to take a quarterback No. 1 overall. 

Most everyone in the business of football would agree that if you like a quarterback, you take him—regardless of what the consensus feels.

So based on that logic, if the Texans feel that any quarterback in this class—Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel or even Derek Carr—is a future star, they should waste no time in settling the debate within their offices. 

But what if they're unsure? If they don't see a surefire starter among the group, should they gamble just because they don't have any other options?

One school of thought says yes, always gamble on the quarterback position. And this group will point to the Miami Dolphins as the prime example. In 2008, the Dolphins drafted Jake Long No. 1 overall, only to watch Matt Ryan develop into one of the game's most reliable starting quarterbacks with the Atlanta Falcons, which selected him third overall. 

The other side of the argument, however, has more than its fair share of painful examples to prove the dangers of gambling on a quarterback.

Teams in this year's top ten such as the Minnesota Vikings (Christian Ponder) and Jacksonville Jaguars (Blaine Gabbert) are only there because of their ill-fated attempts to save a floundering franchise with a dubious quarterback selection. 

Passing on a quarterback is tough, because it gives the fanbase little hope of an immediate turnaround. By selecting a player such as Jadeveon Clowney, the Texans faithful would be forced to sit through another season with another lame-duck quarterback only to hope a better option presented itself in the 2015 draft.

But no matter how painful that may sound for Texans fans, it just might be the right decision. 

Houston hired Bill O'Brien, at least in part, due to his reputation as a quarterbacks guru. Obviously the front office trusts his ability to groom the next face of their franchise. 

So if O'Brien doesn't see a quarterback in this class that he feels can be successfully groomed into a franchise signal-caller, why would the Texans force one on him?

The Texans hired O'Brien to solve this issue, and as a result, the front office should defer almost entirely to him on the decision. If O'Brien sees someone in this class with whom he's excited to work, then the decision is easy. 

But if O'Brien is hesitant about these prospects, there's no reason to make a panicked guess with the No. 1 pick.