Texans Failure to Address QB Position in Draft Will Cost Team Dearly in 2014

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Texans Failure to Address QB Position in Draft Will Cost Team Dearly in 2014
Patric Schneider/Associated Press

The Houston Texans entered the 2014 NFL draft with the first overall pick. That pick was "earned" by way of a miserable 2013 season that included 14 straight losses.

Those 14 straight losses, in turn, were caused in no small part by horrific quarterback play.

However, in what has to be one of the more bizarre developments to this point in the 2014 NFL draft, the Texans have (so far, at least) done absolutely nothing about it.

Yes, after jettisoning veteran signal-caller (and pick-six savant) Matt Schaub in the offseason, the team added veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Assuming a cost similar to what Minnesota paid, should the Texans have traded up for Teddy Bridgewater?

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But, Fitzpatrick was widely believed to be at best a "bridge" starter, a player who was brought in to keep the seat warm until a rookie passer was ready to take the wheel.

In fact, right up until the Texans pulled the trigger on South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney at No. 1 overall, there was speculation that Houston might make a quarterback the first player chosen this year.

That didn't come to pass, but it's understandable. Clowney is widely regarded as the best pass-rushing prospect to come along in several years. The idea of pairing him with J.J. Watt makes defensive coordinators smile and quarterbacks wet themselves.

As Tania Ganguli of ESPN reports, as Thursday's first round closed with the selection of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, many fans wondered aloud why it was the Minnesota Vikings, and not the Texans, who swung the deal to get back into Round 1.

However, Ganguli also points out that it jibed with what general manager Rick Smith told her back in March:

There's some depth in this draft class in general and I think one of the positions that illustrates that is the quarterback position. A lot of people talk about the three guys Manziel, Bortles, and Bridgewater, but there’s some good quarterbacks out there, the whole group.

When Day 2 opened with the Texans picking 33rd, there was buzz that perhaps Fresno State's Derek Carr or Jimmy Garappolo of Eastern Illinois would be the pick.

Instead it was UCLA guard Xavier Su'a Filo. Once again, it was an understandable call. The inside of Houston's offensive line needed a boost, and Su'a Filo was considered the best guard in this class by many draftniks.

Getting the top players at two positions to start a draft is never a bad thing.

That didn't stop the grumbles from gaining steam, especially after Carr and Garoppolo came off the board:

When the third round got underway, the prevailing wisdom was that now the Texans would take a quarterback.

Not so fast my friend!

Instead of a signal-caller, the Texans drafted Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, who Dane Brugler of CBS Sports wrote, "drops the easy one too often and doesn't square targets as a blocker."

Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like the Texans in this draft.

At this point, the grumbles became a roar:

Of course, there will be those who say that all Texans are doing is "staying the course" and "sticking to their board."

That's all well and good, but the simple fact is this. With Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, the Texans will be lucky to break even.

Very lucky.

This isn't to say that Fitzpatrick is awful. The nine-year veteran has made 77 career starts, including nine last year for the Tennessee Titans.

Ryan Fitzpatrick Career Stats
Years Starts Comp. % PYPG TD INT Rating W/L
9 77 59.8 197.5 106 98 77.5 27-49-1

Per Pro Football Reference

However, Fitzpatrick isn't going to be confused with Peyton Manning any time soon. His career completion percentage is under 60 percent. He's tossed over 50 interceptions in the past three years alone. His career passer rating is a very pedestrian 77.5.

More importantly, Fitzpatrick's career winning percentage is .355.

As a backup and mentor to a young quarterback, Fitzpatrick would be fine. As a "bridge" starter for say, half a season, you could do worse.

But if you throw Fitzpatrick out there for 16 games, you aren't winning much.

How many games will the Texans win in 2014?

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Unfortunately, it appears that will be the case this year in Houston, and in a way, it fits with the Texans' M.O. the past few seasons. Even the AFC South title teams of 2011 and 2012 were built around defense and running the football.

When the playoffs came, and Schaub was forced into a position where he had to win a game with his arm, the season ended.

This isn't to say that all hope is lost. After all, this isn't Cleveland we're talking about. There are a number of quarterbacks still left to choose from, from the strong-armed Tom Savage to the uber-accomplished AJ McCarron.

With that said, though, whether it's Savage's rough edges, McCarron's physical limitations or Zach Mettenberger's torn ACL and failed drug test at the combine, each of those passers has at least one huge question mark looming over them. None are considered NFL-ready. Many draftniks and scouts would say that none are what one would call "long-term NFL starter" material.

Perhaps the Texans didn't see that potential in any of the quarterbacks available from Round 2 on. Maybe they found the price of trading back into the first prohibitive.

(For the record, it cost Minnesota a second and fourth-round pick, so the price wasn't a deterrent for the Vikings, especially for a team that entered the 2014 draft with 11 picks.)

Whatever the reason, the Texans balking to this point on taking a quarterback in the NFL draft is set to give fans of the team a decidedly unpleasant case of deja vu. After all, watching J.J. Watt chase down quarterbacks and Arian Foster bang away inside the tackles is old hat in Houston.

So is mediocre quarterbacks costing the Texans wins.

 

Gary Davenport is an NFL Analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPManor.

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