With J.J. Watt
(top) in the fold, the Texans
are likely to go QB or OT at No. 1 overall ... or not. (David Bergman/SI)
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Texans' Bill O'Brien may be new to the whole NFL head coaching world, but he performed the draft tap dance to perfection on Friday morning. O'Brien said at the scouting combine that Houston might consider a quarterback with the No. 1 pick ... or an offensive tackle ... or Jadeveon Clowney ... or ...
"We're always going to look to do what's best for the organization," O'Brien said. "We're only a month and a half into this process. It takes a long time, it's not something you develop your thoughts [on] overnight."
Moments after O'Brien wrapped up his press conference, Houston GM Rick Smith left the door open -- as one might expect more than two months out from the 2014 draft -- for the Texans to trade down out of the top spot.
"We are open to all possibilities," Smith said.
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St. Louis GM Les Snead sounded the same bell regarding his team's spot at No. 2 overall. The Rams acquired that pick in the 2012 draft trade that dropped Robert Griffin III in Washington's lap, one spot behind Andrew Luck. This time around, Snead appears to have a wide variety of possibilities to upgrade his roster, including sliding down in Round 1. (St. Louis also holds pick 13.)
But Snead added that a repeat of that famous trade with the Redskins might be more difficult to pull off, because the top of the draft looks to be so unpredictable.
"Sitting at No. 2 [in 2012]," Snead said, "we knew what pick No. 1 was going to be and we thought we knew what pick No. 2 was going to be. It's going to be different this time."
Obviously, what St. Louis can do with the second overall pick leans heavily on which direction Houston heads at No. 1. The obvious plan there would be for O'Brien to nab himself a potential franchise quarterback, be it Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater.
Some of the tea leaves have pointed toward Bortles, since he played for one of O'Brien's mentors, George O'Leary, at Central Florida. Bortles also defeated O'Brien's Penn State team this past season.
"He played well, they beat us and I thought he threw the ball well that night," said O'Brien of Bortles' performance. "Obviously, I have a connection with George O'Leary. [Bortles is] a big guy, he's athletic, he's a competitive guy. It's fun to watch him on tape and it'll be good to watch him work out here."
Clowney may be the wild card for both the Texans and Rams. Neither team has a particularly pressing need for the South Carolina star -- Houston already has J.J. Watt anchoring its 3-4; St. Louis is well-stocked at DE with Robert Quinn and Chris Long -- but should he stand out as the most talented prospect in this class, he might not last beyond the top two selections.
Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff floated the idea that his team might trade up again (it did so not long ago to land Julio Jones), with Clowney being a possible target for a pass rush-needy team.
"I've watched Jadeveon on film and he's obviously a very good player," O'Brien said. "And he played very well this year."
To add yet another wrinkle into the conversation, O'Brien also spoke of the importance he's placing on solidifying the Texans at offensive tackle. Texas A&M's Jake Matthews, Auburn's Greg Robinson and Michigan's Taylor Lewan all could climb into the top 10.
"I learned a long time ago that you never can have enough tackles," O'Brien said. "We're looking at all the tackles. Tackles on our team, tackles in free agency, tackles in the draft."
To sum it up then: No one knows what the Texans will do with the No. 1 pick or what the Rams might consider at No. 2. That's precisely how those teams want it as the combine rolls along.