By Chris Burke
February 04, 2014

Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien is not sold on Johnny Manziel's 'work ethic' and 'intangibles.' New Texans coach Bill O'Brien is reportedly not sold on Johnny Manziel's 'work ethic' or 'intangibles.' (Tyler Kaufman/Icon SMI)

Ernest Hemingway once said, "The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them," which is definitive proof that Ernest Hemingway never filled out an NFL Mock Draft.

The clock striking zeroes at Super Bowl XLVIII launched us unofficially into draft season. And with that virtual flip of the NFL calendar comes the usual boatload of information -- some correct, some of the smokescreen variety -- that only increases as the draft inches nearer.

A potentially key entry into the annual guessing game came Tuesday from Russ Lande of Sports on Earth (and the current scouting director for the CFL's Montreal Alouettes): "According to trusted sources," Lande wrote, "the Texans are initially leaning towards taking either Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel with the top pick. Although Manziel would obviously be the choice of owner Bob McNair, [Bill] O'Brien is not sold that Manziel possesses the work ethic and intangibles necessary to be the face of a franchise."

This is not the first we've heard of a Bortles-to-Houston connection -- draft analyst Dane Brugler has been banging that drum for awhile now. O'Brien's arrival as the Texans' new head coach only pushed that possibility further along.

That's noted NFL mind Lance Zierlein -- son of former Steelers O-line coach Larry Zierlein -- weighing in there. O'Brien served as an assistant and later offensive coordinator under George O'Leary at Georgia Tech. And Bortles spent the past three seasons thriving under O'Leary's guidance at Central Florida, so O'Brien certainly will call and ask for an insider's opinion at some point.

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Rather surprisingly, Lande barely mentions the name of Teddy Bridgewater. In fact, he suggests that if the Texans are not sold on Bortles, they may "trade down with a team that has Manziel fever or prefers Teddy Bridgewater or Clowney".

Lande made waves in the draft community almost exactly one year ago when, as the National Football Post's lead scout, he placed Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib No. 1 overall on the site's Big Board. Florida State's Bjoern Werner was No. 2, followed by Star Lotulelei, Luke Joeckel and Chance Warmack. Nassib wound up being selected No. 110 overall by the New York Giants.

Those rankings are hardly here nor there when it comes to the possible revelation about the Texans' 2014 draft plans, but they do underscore how all over the board things can be this time of year.

What does seem more apparent by the day is that the Texans will try to address their QB issues in Round 1 -- an opinion hammered home by longtime Texans beat writer John McClain last week:

Audibles' last mock on the Big Board here

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