It is anyone's guess as to what the Houston Texans will do with their uncertain quarterback situation, but one rumor that has surfaced as of late is a potential trade for New England Patriots backup Ryan Mallett.
Beat writer John McClain of the Houston Chronicle is convinced that such a trade won't happen, though:
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller reported recently that the previous association between new Texans coach Bill O'Brien and Mallett in New England could lead to a trade:
That was corroborated by Karen Guregian and Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, who cited a source with knowledge of the situation. McClain seems to think another ex-Patriots QB in Cleveland Browns signal-caller Brian Hoyer is a more likely acquisition for Houston:
McClain's status as a credible authority, his strong stance that Mallett won't be moved and his recent correct prediction that Matt Cassel wouldn't be signed away from the Minnesota Vikings all carry weight here. Presenting Hoyer as an alternative makes sense, too, even though he's coming off a torn ACL.
The conflicting reports create even more confusion, and could be a prime example of smokescreen tactics being deployed by the Texans front office, as it decides what to do with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is a tantalizing possibility, as Houston could pair him with superstar J.J. Watt and give opposing offenses nightmares trying to account for both of them.
There is a certain level of uncertainty surrounding the 2014 draft's quarterback class. All of the perceived top options in Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel have the potential to be franchise QBs, but none of them is an Andrew Luck-type sure thing.
All those factors point to trading for a quarterback as a logical, short-term solution. In Mallett's case, he has amazing arm talent and has sat and learned behind one of the best ever in Tom Brady. Hoyer reaped the benefits of that last season, giving the Browns a spark before his season-ending injury.
Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe isn't at all sold on Mallett to the Texans:
With how good O'Brien is reputed to be at mentoring quarterbacks, general manager Rick Smith could even decide to stick with Case Keenum under center in 2014. The bottom line is that the Texans will draft Clowney in all likelihood if they acquire a QB.
Another dark-horse option early in the second round of the draft is Eastern Illinois prospect Jimmy Garoppolo. O'Brien attended his pro day, and Garoppolo praised the Texans coach for how good he is at working with players at his position.
"He’s awesome,” said Garoppolo, per CSNHouston.com's James Palmer. “He’s an energetic guy. I got to work with him a little bit and he’s a quarterback guru. He knows his stuff and I’m trying to steal a little bit of his knowledge and put it into my game.”
Mallett has thrown just four regular-season passes in his NFL career, but would benefit from having receivers such as Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins to throw to. Both have outstanding ball skills and can win the majority of 50-50 balls, which would allow Mallett to attack defenses deep down the field.
The limited in-game reps, combined with the fact that Mallett had first-round talent but plummeted to the third round of the 2011 draft, make him just as much of a wild card as any of the top rookies entering the NFL this year.
In any event, it appears the Texans are focused with extreme specificity on former Patriots quarterbacks with whom O'Brien is familiar. Whether that's a sound strategy remains to be seen. Both Mallett and Hoyer are considerable risks, and Houston might be better off sticking with Keenum and adding Clowney, looking elsewhere for a short-term starter or drafting its franchise quarterback in May.