Houston Texans not saying if they'll take quarterback with No. 1 pick

Houston Texans not saying if they'll take quarterback with No. 1 pick
Houston Coach Bill O'Brien plans to meet with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel on Thursday, but he says the Texans have not decided whether or not to use the No. 1 overall draft pick on a signal caller. (Patric Schneider / Associated Press)

ORLANDO, Fla. — The last time the Houston Texans had the first pick in the NFL draft, in 2006, they threw a curveball.

They passed on running back Reggie Bush, widely expected to be the first player selected, and took defensive end Mario Williams.


Fast-forward eight years and the Texans, who once again own the top pick, are again a mystery. With six weeks to go before the draft, Houston is keeping its options wide open.

"I don't think it'll come to me in a dream," first-year Texans Coach Bill O'Brien said Tuesday during a breakfast with reporters at the NFL's annual meetings. "It might come to me in a nightmare. ... I don't think it's an easy decision. But we'll make a good pick."

Coming off a 2-14 season, the Texans are in the market for a quarterback. They won't necessarily use the No. 1 pick on one, though, and the signing of Ryan Fitzpatrick could temporarily reduce the sense of urgency.

O'Brien has seen the workouts of Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, and he plans to meet with Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel on Thursday.

"Just my opinion is that I see strengths and weaknesses with every one of these guys," O'Brien said. "I don't see where there are one or two guys, or three guys, that are just light years ahead of the rest of them.

"Some of these guys, if you look at [Alabama's] A.J. McCarron and [Louisiana State's] Zach Mettenberger, those guys played in the SEC, and so did Johnny. That's a tough conference. Zach and A.J., they won a lot of games in the SEC so they must have been doing something right."

There's also the possibility the Texans could take a defensive player such as South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney or Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack.

The Texans have 11 picks to reshape their roster, including the first selection in every round.

"The No. 1 pick in the second round is another first-round pick," O'Brien said. "The No. 1 pick in the third round is a second-round pick. You don't want to be in that position every year, but if you do a good job then it works out."

Big Brother is watching

The league is always looking for ways to improve officiating, and Tuesday teams voted in favor of using an officiating command center at NFL headquarters in New York as an extra set of eyes for replay reviews.

On plays in question, the referee will have the authority to make the final call. However, officials in the command center now will have a voice in the process in real time.

"It's still referee review," said Dean Blandino, the league's director of officiating. "He has the ultimate authority. We're going to consult, and we'll come to a consensus. We're certainly not going to let him make a mistake, but the referee still has the final authority on the calls."

Both the NHL and Major League Baseball rely on a centralized replay systems.


Dunks sunk

Players will no longer be allowed to dunk the ball over the goal-post crossbar, a popular celebration. That should eliminate problems such as the one in Atlanta, when New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham knocked the goal post off kilter with a dunk.

The league also expanded the ban on "roll-up" blocks on the side of a player's leg. Previously, those blocks were only banned when coming from behind.

Give it the boot

Bill Belichick isn't known for being vocal about much, but the New England Patriots coach is among the more ardent proponents of making extra-point kicks more challenging.

The Patriots have proposed the line of scrimmage for PATs be moved back to the 25-yard line to ramp up the degree of difficulty on a play that's otherwise "a gimme."

"When the extra point was part of the game originally, we had players in other positions who were kicking, surfaces were a lot less ideal than what they are now," Belichick said. "It was a tougher play. Now, we've made it a non-play, and I don't think non-plays are good for the game."

Although teams are expected to vote on the proposal before the meetings end Wednesday, it's highly unlikely it will pass. The league is famously slow to make major rules changes — think instant replay — and this one would be a dramatic alteration.

"If nobody wants to do it, we'll leave it the way it is, no problem," Belichick said. "Personally and organizationally, we feel differently. But if we're outliers, that's fine."

The Patriots also have proposed putting fixed cameras on all boundary lines — the sideline, goal line and end line — to supplement TV cameras and guarantee coverage of those lines for replays, no matter where the TV cameras are located.

Belichick scoffed at an argument that has swayed some in the league, that the benefit of those extra cameras wouldn't justify the expense.

"We just spent, whatever it was, how many millions of dollars on the replay system?" he said. "I mean, there's a thousand cameras in every stadium, so that if somebody spills a beer on somebody, we have it on record, right? Maybe we could have a bake sale. Raise some money for the cameras. Do a carwash."

Oh, just that?

Denver Broncos Coach John Fox, whose team was blown out by Seattle in the Super Bowl, on what he would have done differently in that game if he had the chance:

"Probably everything."

Twitter: @LATimesfarmer