The road to acquiring a franchise quarterback in the NFL is, oftentimes, far from simple. Sure, there are a generous handful of quarterbacks that were upper-end-of-the-first-round draft choices, but for every Peyton Manning and Cam Newton taken No. 1 overall, there are guys like Drew Brees and Tom Brady, who had to hardscrabble their way to the top.
The Texans are in the market for a franchise quarterback, and barring a massive move up the draft board, they will be trying to find that next guy in a less than foolproof area of the draft, likely using either their first- (22nd overall) or second-round pick on their future starter. However, allow me to add a wrinkle to the Texans' strategy that takes a page out of the Washington Redskins' book. (I know, I know, "Copy the Redskins??" you're saying. Hear me out.)
Back in 2012, the Redskins mortgaged their next two first-round picks to move up a few spots and draft Robert Griffin III second overall. In that same draft, they used a fourth-round pick on Michigan State average Joe, Kirk Cousins. Drafting Cousins was a curious move at the time, one for which the Redskins caught some flak. Now, four seasons later, Cousins is the one awaiting a massive contract extension and Griffin is on his way out of Washington. It can happen.
I point that out to ask this — why not, if your big board says it's okay, cast as wide a net as possible if you're the Texans and take a second quarterback in the mid to late rounds? Worst case, you stash him on the practice squad and see how it goes. Best case...who knows? Maybe you find the next Cousins, or maybe you find a guy who becomes a trade asset that you can flip at some point down the road.
If the opportunity presented itself from the fourth round on, I'd think about these five guys as a second prospect in camp...
DAK PRESCOTT (Mississippi State, 6-2, 226)
Let me be clear about Prescott — if the Texans chose to draft two quarterbacks, I would be fine with them making Prescott their first quarterback taken in, say, the second or third round. I think that highly of him. I'm not sure that those in positions of influence in the NFL agree with me. I love Prescott's mobility, and I'm big on college quarterbacks who win at a high level in college and come from programs that don't traditionally win. Mississippi State was 19-7 in Prescott's two full seasons as a starter in 2014 and 2015. It's common (lazy) analysis to merely say Prescott's "another Tim Tebow" because, like Tebow, he skippered Dan Mullen's offense, but Prescott improved drastically between 2014 and 2015 as a passer and has the ability to push the ball down the field.
JACOB COKER (Alabama, 6-6, 236)
Coker looks the part of what we all perceive to be Bill O'Brien's style of quarterback porn, at least physically — big, tall, strong arm. On the bright side, in addition to being the quarterback for a national champion at Alabama, Coker had to overcome his fair share of adversity in his career, having transferred from Florida State to Alabama, and losing out on starting gigs multiple times before becoming a championship quarterback. On the other hand, if Coker were actually better at football, he never would've had to transfer or earn starting gigs back. As a late-round pick, he might be worth keeping around.
KEVIN HOGAN (Stanford, 6-3, 217)
As a Stanford graduate, Hogan would certainly seem to check off O'Brien's "intelligence" boxes in the QB evaluation. That, combined with his experience in Stanford's pro-style offense, would seem to portend a quick transition to the NFL, quicker than with some of the other prospects in this draft class. The one negative for Hogan would be accuracy that is average, at best, generated by a throwing motion that some may see as elongated. Hogan, though, has the acumen to cover up whatever physical flaws exist in his game. He was second in FBS in yards per attempt (9.43) this past season, so he's doing something right.
VERNON ADAMS JR. (Oregon, 5-11, 185)
Adams, of course, was the transfer from Eastern Washington who took a math test right before the 2015 season started so that he could enroll at Oregon. He almost immediately passed over Jeff Lockie, who was Marcus Mariota's backup in 2014, on the depth chart. Adams's calling card is his athleticism, which helps overcome his Russell Wilson-esque size issues. At the very least, Adams seems like one of those pieces that would allow O'Brien and Godsey to get cute every now and then with their play calling.
JEFF DRISKEL (Louisiana Tech, 6-4, 230)
Once upon a time, Driskel was the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the country coming out of high school. Then he decided to go to Florida and play for Will Muschamp, and his career was almost lethally infected by Muschamp's complete inability to game plan anything on the offensive side of the football. Miraculously, though, Driskel was given a second chance as a graduate transfer at Louisiana Tech and has, at the very least, put himself back on the NFL radar. Again, like Coker, Driskel is a guy who checks off a lot of the physical boxes for O'Brien and might be worth a flyer in the mid to late rounds as a project.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 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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