LOUISVILLE If Rick Smith has already identified the front-runner to be selected with the No. 1 pick overall in the upcoming NFL Draft, the Houston Texans general manager is hardly tipping his hand.

It s a process, Smith told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday night, shortly after arriving in town for the Pro Day workout at the University of Louisville today that will showcase quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Smith is among several notable decision-makers who will personally observe Bridgewater, considered by some to be the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft.

I m anxious to see him, Smith said. The guest list includes five head coaches: Chip Kelly (Eagles), Gus Bradley (Jaguars), Mike Zimmer (Vikings), Dennis Allen (Raiders) and Bill O Brien (Texans). The workout is just one part of the process, but it is critical enough for Bridgewater, who didn t throw at the NFL scouting combine last month and is trying to separate himself from the draft s other top-rated quarterbacks, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles.

Bortles, the Central Florida star, will work out on Wednesday; Manziel s showcase is March 27 at Texas A&M. Smith undoubtedly holds the keys to unlocking the tone of an extremely deep draft, but would not reveal a timetable to indicate when the Texans will internally decide what they will do with the top pick on May 8.

After the workouts, the team will undoubtedly bring the top candidates to Houston for visits.

Throughout April, the Texans will engage in intense draft meetings like every team in the league to finalize their draft board.

Although it s obvious that O Brien begins his tenure needing a quarterback to build with, Smith insists that doesn t mean the Texans are locked into drafting a quarterback with the first pick. The idea, he contends, is to stay true to the draft board and select the best available player which in this case might even be South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

It s never about need, Smith said. It s always about value. If you draft for need, you run the risk of making mistakes.

Read or Share this story: