We all know it by now, the Houston Texans need a quarterback. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien has quite a few qualities he’s looking for in his new passer.
Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien is currently in the process of evaluating quarterbacks in the 2016 NFL Draft, and the media knows it. This week at the NFL Draft Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium, O’Brien answered questions from the media, and they asked him all about the quarterback position.
The reporters started out asking O’Brien about Christian Hackenberg, who was the quarterback for Penn State when O’Brien coached for the Nittany Lions a few seasons ago. The Houston coach stated that he liked Hackenberg, but was wary of talking about him too much, and made it clear that he wasn’t going to talk about who he might draft in which round, or which round he hopes to take a quarterback in.
O’Brien then moved to a description of some of the qualities he hopes to find in his next quarterback. Most of it was fairly generic, but it did give us some insight as to who he may be looking at in this year’s draft:
"“Most importantly, you have to go out on the practice field and earn the respect of your teammates,” O’Brien said (via Drew Dougherty of HoustonTexans.com). “And then go out and win games which ultimately earns the respect of your teammates and your team.”"
This brings us memories of Ryan Mallett, a quarterback O’Brien liked, but who did anything but earn the respect of his teammates. Showing up late for practice and games, pouting when he wasn’t given the starting job and when he was benched in-game, and a general self-centered attitude were the things that Mallett brought to the table. Clearly O’Brien has decided that he will be looking more into prospects’ characters this season.
"“I think one of the things about playing quarterback is you have to be a great teammate and you have to be able to communicate with everybody on the team,” O’Brien said. “With your coaching staff, with everybody in the building, your general manager, your scouts. When you’re a quarterback in the NFL, obviously you’re the face of the franchise in many ways.”"
Again, we see a possible jab at Ryan Mallett, but also some indication as to O’Brien’s primary qualifications in his search. Probably players with the history of Cardale Jones and Connor Cook will not be high on O’Brien’s board. Those guys may have physical talent, but they’ve shown a certain lack of leadership that won’t fit well with an attempt to be the face of a franchise.
Jared Goff and Carson Wentz both fit the bill with these leadership qualities, and if the Texans are able to get one of these two in the first round I fully expect them to. Later on, players like Jake Coker, Cody Kessler, and Jacoby Brissett have all shown leadership ability that may get O’Brien to take a second look. These guys have all been team leaders for awhile or shown an ability to lead a squad through adversity or intense scrutiny.
Ultimately, nobody truly knows what Houston’s going to do at quarterback. I can’t imagine them failing to draft one, but maybe they answer that question in free agency or through a trade. One thing is for sure, O’Brien isn’t going to take another risk with a player of questionable character just because he likes the physical tools.