4. Thoughts at QB
It’s incredibly difficult to break down the Houston Texans quarterback situation, but I’ll try my hand at it anyway. I have faith in O’Brien’s ability to develop quarterbacks, but I don’t have faith in any of the current QBs on the Texans roster being the answer. It was pretty surprising to see the Texans pull Savage this year, since he’s not polished enough to feasibly start right-away and might not have enough upside to be worth waiting on. I think he’s worth developing, but are the Texans better of drafting a top QB next year (like the three mentioned earlier in the piece) instead of waiting to start Savage in 2015?
I’ve watched Savage closely at Pitt, and I’ve never been a fan of his game. He has a great arm and decent enough accuracy, but he is an inconsistent decision-maker with sketchy mechanics. He has some similarities to Derek Carr, but he’s much less athletic and not as smart with the football. Those are two big things that could undo him, but at least O’Brien has a fair shot at being able to mold him into something.
The outlook at the quarterback position for the Texans in 2014 only isn’t rosy by any means, and it will be interesting to see who starts. My guess is that the Texans will end up choosing between Keenum or Fitzpatrick in an all-out QB competition in August, as I believe Savage will show that he isn’t worth considering yet. Fitzpatrick has experience and once fooled the admittedly gullible Buddy Nix into giving him a large extension, but he’s such a poor decision-maker and limited player that he isn’t guaranteed to start over Keenum. That said, I would tentatively expect him to be the favorite to start, but that all hinges on how much progress Keenum makes this offseason under the Texans new head coach. As it stands, I don’t envy O’Brien’s position at all, and QB is such a wash right now that I’m fine with whatever O’Brien chooses; he’ll have a legitimate justification for starting any of the QBs.
5. Killer TEs
On the bright side, whichever QB starts for the Texans should have excellent talent to work with, and it goes beyond just the top-notch WR duo or an elite running back; the Texans will continue to have one of the deepest TE groups in the NFL. Even though Owen Daniels left to join Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison on the Baltimore Ravens, the Texans are still three-deep at the position and are still emphasizing it under O’Brien after snagging C.J. Fiedorowicz, who recently signed his rookie deal, in the draft.
Garrett Graham established himself as a quality player in 2012, and he followed that up with a steady 49 receptions for 545 yards last season, taking advantage of Daniels’s injury (which was worse than initially expected). Graham’s a pretty limited player, but he’s a nice TE2. I think he’ll be usurped as the primary starter by one of the Texans young TEs, because I like the upside that both Ryan Griffin and Fiedorowicz bring to the table.
Last season, Griffin flashed with 19 receptions for 244 yards as a late-round rookie, and he was significantly more productive than Graham on a per-target basis. I think he’s the most fluid pass-catcher of the TEs on the Texans roster, so it’s worth taking a close look at his upside. As for Fiedorowicz, he was a great blocker at Iowa and figures to immediately be the Texans best blocking tight end next season. He also possesses good upside as a pass-catcher, and it will be interesting to see how well he looks as a pass-catcher this offseason. The Hawkeyes staff didn’t use him frequently as a receiver, since they like their TEs to block more. I’m sure the Texans will use him in both roles, and O’Brien and his staff should be able to develop him as a receiver over the next few seasons.