INDIANAPOLIS – After declaring there haven't been any decisions made about the first overall pick of the draft, Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien was asked if the team has narrowed it down to five or six candidates.
He chuckled. He said no in a dismissive tone.
Maybe that's true, maybe it's not. But he made his point. Nothing has been settled for the Texans. Far from it.
"It takes a long time," O'Brien said. "It's not something where you develop your thoughts right away overnight."
The elephant in the room is Johnny Manziel, and that was figuratively the case on Friday. When O'Brien walked into the room for his news conference, he took a left to his podium. To his right he spotted hundreds of media members crowded around Manziel's podium, listening to the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner speak. The Houston Chronicle's John McClain reported that the Texans will meet with Manziel on Saturday, which isn't surprising. He's one of the obvious options for the first pick.
The allure of taking Manziel, who starred at nearby Texas A&M, to be the team's new franchise quarterback is hard to ignore. But Texans general manager Rick Smith said ownership has not and will not put any pressure on the front office to take that into consideration.
"We don't feel that kind of pressure from any external source," Smith said.
Manziel's measurement of a little less than 6-feet tall, which will be debated in the front offices of each team with a high pick and a quarterback need before May's draft, isn't something that seems to be scaring off the Texans.
"In my career I've been around quarterbacks that were 6-foot-5, and I've been around quarterbacks that were 5-foot-10," O'Brien said. "And both types of quarterbacks were very successful."
"To say that an inch here or five or 10 pounds there or a tenth in a 40 time is something that will disqualify a player, it won't," Smith said. "Because the bulk of the evaluation from our perspective is, what type of football player is he?"
Smith made a comment about "three quarterbacks," which presumably means Manziel, Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater. But the Texans aren't boxing themselves into taking a quarterback first overall. O'Brien said the team has looked at the top offensive tackles too. Auburn's Greg Robinson and Texas A&M's Jake Matthews are each expected to go in the top 10. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is also an intriguing option.
Smith said the team won't draft a player based on need, which opens up all their options.
"To me, that's where you make mistakes," Smith said about drafting for need. "You've got to take value."
Smith said most of the Texans' player evaluation is done, because they heavily rely on a prospect's game tape to make a judgment. That doesn't mean decisions have been made. Most years, a favorite for the first pick emerges well before the draft, sometimes months in advance but typically by the end of the combine. That doesn't seem likely this year.
"I'm not sure we're going to leave Indy this year knowing who pick one is going to be," said Rams general manager Les Snead, whose team has the second pick. "If you all do know, let me know."
"Everybody wants to know, and that's fun," Smith said. "We try to keep our opinions close to the vest."
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