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Empty Notebook: Bill O'Brien press conference

Here's what we learned from Bill O'Brien in Friday's press conference at Friday's NFL Scouting Combine.

-The first selection in the draft has not been narrowed down to the top four or five picks.

-All three of the quarterbacks on the current roster, Matt Schaub, Case Keenum, and T.J. Yates, have met with O'Brien. Evaluation is difficult because of the league's restrictions.

-Key dates are April 7, when players can begin working with strength coaches and April 28 when coaches can work with them.

-O'Brien enjoyed going through the draft process while coaching in New England.

-He does not compare draft prospects or quarterbacks to Tom Brady because "guys like Tom Brady don't come along very often."

-O'Brien has been around quarterbacks that were 6-feet-5 and 5-10. Both types were successful in what his team did offensively. O'Brien is not just looking at height, but the best fit for the team, the roster, the organization.

-On quarterback measurables, height not as important as how stoutly a quarterback is built and his durability.

-Bill Belichick has taught O'Brien a lot, from a lot from how to prepare for a game, evaluating the roster, and getting ready for the draft.

-"We are looking at all the tackles," O'Brien said. "The tackles our team, the tackles in free agency, the tackles in the draft. That is a very important position on your football team."

-What makes a player a good fit for the team, according to O'Brien, is the following: "being coachable, being really good teammates and understanding that when they leave the building that they represent the organization."

-O'Brien spoke with his former coach George O'Leary just once when the Central Florida coach congratulated him on accepting the Texans head coaching position. He has not spoken with him since about quarterback Blake Bortles.

After the press conference, O'Brien addressed a smaller group outside. The following are notes from that appearance.

-O'Brien had just a brief, introductory conversation with Arian Foster. He is aware of Foster's progress from back surgery through meetings with team physicians.

-Antonio Smith is a tough, smart player who has earned O'Brien's respect with his accomplishments and ability to be a good teammate.

-One of the most important traits a quarterback can have is hand size because of the importance of grip, especially in cold-weather games.

-Individual posters and accolades were taken down around Reliant Stadium. While veterans' accomplishments are important, players win and lose as a team.

-No offensive coordinator means quarterbacks coach George Godsey will play "a big role" on offense. His path may mirror O'Brien's at Penn State, according to the head coach.

-O'Brien said Case Keenum was "Competetive, athletic, smart, good team guy" but did not say whether or not he would be an NFL starter next year. When asked, O'Brien said, "We'll see."

-O'Brien was not concerned with comments by Johnny Manziel saying the Texans might regret not drafting him. "I think it's a free country," O'Brien said. "I think he can say whatever he wants to say. I've enjoyed watching him on film."


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