Even with so much time still left in the pre-draft evaluation process, it's already looking like the Houston Texans would be foolish to not draft Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel with the first overall pick. Manziel has made it known that he would love to remain in his home state as a pro. The Texans also would be crazy to not take a quarterback when that is the most pressing need on this team. Add in the fact that there isn't a dramatically better signal-caller in this class than Manziel, and you can see where this is going. The Texans might have a hard time selling any other choice to their fan base.
The easy assumption is that Houston is facing the same situation that Vince Young created for them in 2006, when the former University of Texas star and Houston native was dying to join his hometown team after a brilliant college career. It's not. The Texans were smart enough to see they had more attractive options in that class, namely defensive end Mario Williams (whom they eventually selected with that year's first overall pick) and running back Reggie Bush. Manziel is a more polished, electrifying talent than Young ever was, one who would be a marketing dream for the Texans' support staff.
It's also worth noting that this year's quarterback class doesn't have a player who transcends all others. For all the red flags that critics like to attach to Manziel, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Central Florida's Blake Bortles have their own shortcomings. Bridgewater has a frame so slight that scouts question how he'll handle the pounding at the next level. Bortles has produced one sensational year during his college career, which could make him the next Mark Sanchez. In other words, it's not as if the Texans are going to be bailed out by some prospect morphing into the next Andrew Luck in the coming months.
Instead, Houston might have to accept that Manziel is their man, so long as he doesn't flop at his pro day. If he weren't coachable - and some already wonder how he would co-exist with Texans head coach Bill O'Brien, a man who made his name tutoring Tom Brady in New England - he wouldn't have vaulted to stardom in only two seasons at A&M. If Manziel had a lousy work ethic, another commonly mentioned concern, he wouldn't have been grinding under quarterback guru George Whitfield since before anybody ever knew his name outside of College Station. And if Manziel really is overrated, he wouldn't have someone like former Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer talking about how he'd never seen a player dominate college football as Manziel did over the past two seasons.
Switzer's comments drive home the most important point concerning Manziel right now: He's the most dynamic signal-caller in this class. With all due respect to ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski - who recently claimed that early film study led him to believe Manziel wasn't worth a pick in the first three rounds - playing quarterback in the league these days isn't just about dominating from the pocket any more. It's about making plays out of nothing, when all hell is breaking loose around you.