ORLANDO Make no mistake, Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith thinks he can find a franchise quarterback in this year s draft.
I can t say it anymore clear. This group has some guys. I don t talk individuals, Smith told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. It s a deep board at a number of positions. And the quarterback position is one of them.
Smith was asked if any team has reached out during the owners meetings about acquiring the No. 1 overall pick.
If they did, I wouldn t tell you, Smith said. But what I will tell you is we re going to be open to all possibilities.
Smith and new coach Bill O Brien are looking forward to meeting with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel following his pro day Thursday.
He s an exciting football player, Smith said. And you see his style of play being employed in our league now.
According to Smith, those who insist Manziel s free-wheeling style wouldn t fit O Brien s offensive philosophy are off target.
That s not an accurate statement at all, Smith said. Bill O Brien is a creative coach. He s an innovative coach. And if he had a guy like Johnny Manziel, he d figure out a way to utilize his skills.
Smith paused, then, chuckled.
Now when you write that everybody is going to say, We re taking him, he said. Which I love.
The Texans are loaded with 11 draft picks and Smith is expected to make them count. After firing coach Gary Kubiak in December, team owner Bob McNair said he expected the Texans to return to contention in 2014.
There s been a lot of talk about the first pick, Smith said. But this is the opportunity to really improve our football team through this draft. And build on the foundation that is already in place.
It s not so much about the first pick. ... It s the first pick in each round. It s a valuable spot to be in. Because you either get the top player on your board three different times. Or you get the opportunity to move down and add more value to your team.