The Houston Texans are set at starting quarterback with Deshaun Watson, who set the league on fire in his abbreviated rookie season.
Behind Watson, however, the cupboard is pretty bare. Tom Savage and T.J. Yates are both free agents and figure to have little appeal to return. The only other QB in Houston is Taylor Heinicke, who threw exactly one career pass before joining the abundant list of Texans who suffered concussions.
And given No. 4 is coming off his second major knee surgery, having someone who can operate Bill O’Brien’s offense and not sink the ship is a roster imperative.
Here are four quarterbacks from the NFL Scouting Combine who should be in play to become Watson’s backup.
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
Barrett earned his place in Buckeye royalty for being a tremendous leader and dual-threat weapon. He won more games than any QB in Ohio State history despite losing his job temporarily and not having great accuracy.
Much like Watson, his intangibles and charisma among players and coaches are sky-high. He doesn’t have the pinpoint accuracy and struggles to throw on the move, but he can tuck and run as well as anyone. Barrett would likely require the highest draft investment of any listed here; my guess is it would take an early sixth-rounder to land the Texas native. Oftentimes, you get what you pay for in a backup QB…
Quinton Flowers, South Florida
Flowers is one of the most fun-to-watch prospects at any position in this draft class. He’s got magnetic kineticism as he plays quarterback. His run-pass option ability is very impressive and he’s quick to seize opportunities with his legs.
As for his passing, well…he doesn’t put the ball up for grabs. Flowers is quite careful, which is good. Unfortunately his accuracy is rough at just 53 percent. He’s also slow to read defenses after his first option, enough so that many teams asked him to possibly move to safety.
Tanner Lee, Nebraska
Many were surprised when Lee declared early for the draft, but he’s already graduated from Nebraska and decided to test his wares. He is more like Savage than Watson stylistically, though with a bigger arm than either. Lee demonstrated that on the throwing turf here at Lucas Oil Stadium as well as the Senior Bowl.
His game is more like Josh Allen than Watson. Ball placement is a major issue, as is the consistency of making quick decisions. Lee was a 57 percent passer who threw 16 INTs against 23 TDs last season. He’s the kind of backup who can win you a game if he’s hot but ruin your season if he’s not.
Logan Woodside, Toledo
Woodside offers accuracy and the ability to throw to divergent targets all over the field while on the run. He’s smallish at 6-1 and 213 pounds but quite athletic; his 40-yard dash and agility tests ranked among the best here in Indianapolis.
Much like Watson a year ago, questions about his size, arm strength and ability to transition to a different offense dog Woodside. Having seen him play in person at Toledo, my impression is his arm is not as strong as Watson’s. But beyond that, he’s capable of operating the same system and offers more escapability than the likes of Savage or Yates.