2017 NFL Draft: Will There Be a Worthy QB Left for the Texans?

If Patrick Mahomes is there at the 25th pick, the Texans should sprint the card up to the podium.
If Patrick Mahomes is there at the 25th pick, the Texans should sprint the card up to the podium.

In the National Football League, when you finish 9-7 three years in a row, there is upside and there is downside. Let's start with the good stuff.

In the AFC South, finishing 9-7 probably means you won the division title, which means you get to interrupt the media's questions and brag about it at your press conference on the night you clinch said title. That's pretty fun! Also, technically, 9-7 is a winning season, so you can call yourself a "winner" and, under the most minimal definition of the word, you aren't lying.

Now for the bad stuff. 9-7 for three straight seasons means that you are the definition of a C- to a C+, on the border of irrelevance in the NFL's equivalent of purgatory. I mean, at least REALLY bad teams are gifted draft choices that give them a path to the next great player, maybe even a potentially great quarterback.

That brings us to the Houston Texans, who, if they were to construct a welcome sign in front of NRG Stadium like a fast-food restaurant, would call the venue the "Home of the 9-7 Record." When Bill O'Brien took over in 2014, the Texans were in desperate need of a franchise quarterback. Now, three drafts, a half dozen castoffs and a Brock Osweiler later, they are still in desperate need of a franchise quarterback.

The general consensus seems to be that they will draft one in a couple of weeks, likely in the first two rounds, possibly in the first round. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so who knows what or whom Rick Smith and Bill O'Brien will value in the upcoming rookie class.

The top three quarterbacks are generally thought to be, in some order, North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky, Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes, and Clemson's Deshaun Watson. Notre Dame's Deshone Kizer is a close fourth. Then come names like Pitt's Nathan Peterman, Tennessee's Joshua Dobbs, and Cal's Davis Webb. The Texans' selection of any of those top three guys would probably be enough to cause celebration among most Texan fans, and true long-term optimism about the position.

But will they be there if the Texans sit and wait at 25, a tack history tells us they will take. They've traded up in the first round one time during Rick Smith's tenure as GM, last season when they moved up one spot to take wide receiver Will Fuller.

So let's look at the 22 teams making the 24 picks in front of them (Cleveland and Tennessee pick twice thanks to last season's trades with the Eagles and Rams, respectively), and see what the chances are they use these picks on a quarterback. Here we go...

1. Cleveland
Starter:
 Cody Kessler
Backup: Kevin Hogan, Brock Osweiler
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 1: 5 percent
The Browns will almost assuredly be coming away from this draft with a quarterback, but it probably won't be here. Myles Garrett of Texas A&M will be the pick, but we will leave the door open 5 percent based solely on the smoke unleashed this week that they may take Trubisky here. Doubtful, but acknowledged.

2. San Francisco
Starter: Brian Hoyer
Backup: Matt Barkley
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 2: 20 percent
The 49ers absolutely need a quarterback, but are probably more likely to wait until the top of the second round and take whoever is left over from the top tier (Kizer?), or they could trade back into the first round. More on that scenario in a bit.

3. Chicago
Starter: Mike Glennon
Backup: Mark Sanchez, Connor Shaw
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 3: 15 percent
Glennon's three-year contract, while on the surface a quasi-commitment to him as a starter, is really a de facto one-year deal. The Bears could absolutely take a QB here, or in the early second (or trade back into the first round from the second).

4. Jacksonville
Starter: Blake Bortles
Backup: Chad Henne, Brandon Allen
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 4: 10 percent
The Jags surprised everyone when they took Bortles at three in 2014. Three years later, they're picking fourth. Maybe they surprise again.

5. Tennessee (from Los Angeles Rams)
Starter: Marcus Mariota
Backup: Matt Cassel, Alex Tanney
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 5: ZERO percent

6. New York Jets
Starter: Josh McCown
Backup: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenburg
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 6: 30 percent
The Jets absolutely need a franchise quarterback, which is hilarious since they've drafted a QB in three of the last four drafts. They're addicted to drafting quarterbacks!

7. Los Angeles Chargers
Starter: Philip Rivers
Backup: Kellen Clemens, Mike Bercovici
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 7: 10 percent
Here is the first team that fits a profile that has been largely ignored in the conjecture process — the mediocre-to-average team with an aging QB, who could be looking for the next franchise QB. Trubisky, Watson or Mahomes here to groom behind Rivers could be a solid play as they try to garner interest in their move to Los Angeles.

8. Carolina
Starter: Cam Newton
Backup: Derek Anderson, Joe Webb
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 8: 2 percent
The 2 percent is here merely because a) Cam Newton's injury/concussion issues have to be a small concern, and b) the player picked will hold his value even if he never plays.

9. Cincinnati
Starter: Andy Dalton
Backup: A.J. McCarron, Jeff Driskel
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 9: 3 percent
I could see the SLIGHT chance of a scenario in which McCarron gets traded, and maybe they really like one of the rookies sitting there at nine. Dalton can't be viewed as a sacred cow.

10. Buffalo
Starter: Tyrod Taylor
Backup: Cardale Jones, T.J. Yates
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 10: 15 percent
They just re-upped with Taylor, but he's not a franchise QB to the degree where you'd pass on a guy you really, really like more than any other player on the board.

11. New Orleans
Starter: Drew Brees
Backup: Chase Daniel, Garrett Grayson
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 11: 10 percent
This is "aging veteran QB" possibility number two. Grooming Mahomes behind Brees with Sean Payton there as the head coach just feels fun.

12. Cleveland (from Philadelphia)
Starter: Cody Kessler
Backup: Kevin Hogan, Brock Osweiler
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 12: 50 percent
If Garrett goes first overall, as expected, then it'd be a mild surprise for this pick not to get deployed in some way for a QB, whether by using the pick on one or trading the pick for Jimmy Garoppolo. Cleveland native Trubisky is a near lock to go here, if available.

13. Arizona
Starter: Carson Palmer
Backup: Drew Stanton, Zac Dysert
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 13: 35 percent
By far, the "aging veteran QB" team most frequently mock drafted with a QB here.

14. Philadelphia (from Minnesota)
Starter: Carson Wentz
Backup: Nick Foles, Matt McGloin
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 14: ZERO percent

15. Indianapolis
Starter: Andrew Luck
Backup: Scott Tolzien, Stephen Morris
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 15: ZERO percent

16. Baltimore
Starter: Joe Flacco
Backup: Ryan Mallett, Dustin Vaughan
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 16: 3 percent
Leaving the door open just because nobody here is a world-beater.

17. Washington
Starter: Kirk Cousins
Backup: Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 17: 7 percent
Leaving the door open here on the slight chance we see a "trade Cousins, draft best available rookie" scenario play out.

18. Tennessee
Starter: Marcus Mariota
Backup: Matt Cassel, Alex Tanney
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 18: ZERO percent

19. Tampa Bay
Starter: Jameis Winston
Backup: Ryan Griffin, Sean Renfree
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 19: ZERO percent

20. Denver
Starter: Trevor Siemian
Backup: Paxton Lynch
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 20: 5 percent
If there's one NFL executive who feels like he has the leeway with his fan base to follow up a first-round pick at QB in 2016 with another one in 2017, it's John Elway.

21. Detroit
Starter: Matt Stafford
Backup: Jake Rudock
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 21: 1 percent
You never know, but probably not...

22. Miami
Starter: Ryan Tannehill
Backup: Matt Moore, Brandon Doughty, David Fales
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 22: 1 percent
Ditto what I just said for Detroit...

23. New York Giants
Starter: Eli Manning
Backup: Geno Smith, Josh Johnson, Keith Wenning
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 23: 8 percent
I realize that Eli is made of Valyrian steel, but they'll need to draft a QB someday, right?

24. Oakland
Starter: Derek Carr
Backup: Connor Cook, E.J. Manuel
QB Draft Likelihood at No. 24: ZERO percent

Empirically, the Texans SHOULD wind up with one of the top four quarterbacks sitting there when they pick at 25, and possibly one of the top three. The only other possibility that could gum up the works is a team — San Francisco and Chicago are the ones to watch — trading back into the first round in front of the Texans to make sure they get one of the top three or four guys.

TEXANS QB PREDICTION: Rick Smith stands pat and takes someone semi-underwhelming in the third round.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.


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