USA TODAY Sports’ Tom Pelissero analyzes top quarterback prospect Mitchell Trubisky from North Carolina.
USA TODAY Sports
In the days leading up to the 2017 NFL draft, USA TODAY Sports will take a closer look at the burning questions that will shape the event.
Our latest: Do the Houston Texans take a QB in the first two rounds?
They haven’t done it since Rick Smith became general manager in 2006. But there are reasons to believe that may change soon, even though none of the quarterbacks in this class is likely to step in immediately.
Tom Savage, a fourth-round pick in 2014, is the odds-on favorite to start in Week 1. He is accurate, has a strong arm and knows coach Bill O’Brien’s complicated system. If the Texans can get Savage to limit mistakes, play to their defense and stay healthy – which has been a problem – they’ll have a chance to compete.
Savage hasn’t proven he can be a long-term NFL starter, though. And he’s entering the last year of his contract. It’s hard to imagine the Texans going into the season with just him and Brandon Weeden on the roster.
None of the quarterbacks remaining on the free-agent market (Jay Cutler, Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Fitzpatrick, et al.) is really a fit for the Texans’ offense.
A trade can’t be ruled out – and the Texans have some potential chips, including receiver DeAndre Hopkins – but who are they going to trade for? The New England Patriots don’t want to deal Jimmy Garoppolo, and even if they did, it’s hard to imagine Bill Belichick shipping him to a team that might be a QB away from threatening in the AFC. A move for, say, Cincinnati Bengals backup AJ McCarron augers a little too much like Brock Osweiler II. Something like J.J. Watt-for-Philip Rivers is probably way too fantasy football to actually happen.
That leaves the draft, where the Texans own the Nos. 25 and 57 overall picks. (The second-rounder they sent to the Cleveland Browns to get rid of Osweiler was a 2018 selection.)
It was odd the Texans didn’t send top brass to any of the potential first-round QB prospects’ pro days, nor was there a documented visit or workout before word leaked Sunday of Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes coming to team headquarters. That might just mean the Texans have been going out of their way to keep things quiet.
A lot of BS flies this time of year, but file this away: One NFL coach who’s done homework on all the top QBs told me the word is O’Brien absolutely loves the cannon-armed Mahomes. O’Brien wouldn’t be alone – based on conversations I’ve had, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Mahomes is one of the first two quarterbacks taken.
No matter who the target might be in Round 1, the next question is: Can the Texans wait until 25 to get him?
Follow Tom Pelissero on Twitter @TomPelissero
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