The Texans will enter the 2009 draft with three quarterbacks on their roster. All three are 27 or younger and Matt Schaub is entrenched as the team's starter, so the position doesn't rank as a primary need for the Texans.
Next season will be Schaub's third in Houston since he arrived in a draft-day trade with the Falcons three years ago. Schaub has led the Texans to an 8-8 finish in back-to-back seasons. His biggest concerns this season will be staying healthy – he's missed 10 games in two seasons – and reducing turnovers.
Last season, Schaub was fourth in the NFL in passing yards/game (276.6), fourth in completion percentage (66.1), seventh in passer rating (92.7) and second in yards/attempt (8.01). He threw for 15 touchdowns but also had 10 interceptions and four fumbles lost. Those turnovers contributed to the Texans' offense ranking third in yards per game (382.1) but 17th in points (22.9).
"I think he's turning into a fine, fine player," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said after the season. "His numbers, had he played the whole season, I think he would have been right in the mix of being a Pro Bowl player. I think that's what he's capable of. But for him to take that next step and for our team to take that next step, that turnover margin at that position for this team has got to go down."
Sage Rosenfels, though turnover prone in 2008, compiled a 6-4 record filling in for Schaub over two seasons. The Texans' offense hardly skipped a beat when he played, and the same will be expected of new backup Dan Orlovsky. At 6-5, 230, he has a nearly identical build to Schaub (6-5, 234), and Texans coaches see him as a very similar player in terms of physical abilities.
The Texans drafted Alex Brink in the seventh round last year as a developmental player. Brink, the all-time leader in career yards at Washington State, spent last season on the Texans' practice squad after beating out Shane Boyd for a roster spot.
Though it's not a need for the Texans, the quarterback position could have a big impact on their draft if one of the three projected first-round picks falls to the middle of the round. That could prompt a team to try to trade up with the Texans or a team picking near the No. 15 spot.
In an exclusive for HoustonTexans.com, Michael Lombardi of The National Football Post offers his Top 5 quarterback prospects in the 2009 draft class. A 23-year veteran of NFL personnel departments, Lombardi is sizing up each position group with us in our "Path to the Draft" series.
Michael Lombardi's Top 5 Quarterbacks
1. Mark Sanchez, USC
Lombardi:A natural leader who knows how to handle the pressure of being an NFL quarterback. Has been tutored in an NFL-style offense at USC and showcases the accuracy and ability to make NFL-type reads. Has only one year of starting experience and may need some time to get the additional reps needed to be successful.
2. Matthew Stafford, Georgia
Lombardi:A strong-armed passer who has the ability to make all the necessary throws at the next level. Possesses good footwork and balance and knows how to read a defense in his drop from center. However, he will trust his arm too much at times and has a tendency to lose the strike zone.
3. Josh Freeman, Kansas State
Lombardi:A massive, strong-armed passer who possesses the best arm strength in this year's draft class. Has the ability to make all the throws and is a gifted athlete for his size. Does a nice job breaking containment, but needs time to develop as a pocket passer. He lacks great accuracy, displays sloppy footwork and struggles throwing receivers open on all levels of the field.
4. Pat White, West Virginia Lombardi:An elite athlete for the position and is always a threat to tuck the ball and pick up yards with his feet. Has good arm strength from the pocket and developed immensely as a pocket passer last year. Does a nice job extending plays outside the pocket and is very accurate on the move. Is at his best when asked to improvise after a play breaks down.
5. Stephen McGee, Texas A&M Lombardi:Possesses an ideal combination of arm strength and athleticism for the quarterback position. Does a great job sidestepping pressure and knows how to create plays with his feet. Showcases good accuracy and zip from the pocket and is starting to develop into a very promising pocket passer. However, he lacks experience under center and needs to learn to make NFL-type reads as a pocket passer.
Nick Scurfield's Top 5
1. Mark Sanchez, USC Scurfield:Sanchez's intangibles make him a superb leader on the field. He can make every throw, has a strong-but-not-incredible arm, plays well on the move and isn't afraid to take risks. The two blotches on Sanchez's resume: inexperience and some minor injuries. But he gave a glimpse of his upside in the 2009 Rose Bowl when he threw for 413 yards against Penn State.
2. Matthew Stafford, Georgia Scurfield:Stafford has three years of starting experience at a top SEC school. He was a bit inconsistent at Georgia and had accuracy issues (57.2 career completion percentage), but he possesses outstanding arm strength and played in an NFL-style offense at Georgia. He can get the ball into tight spaces that most quarterbacks can't and can put a lot of zip on the ball when he's on the run.
3. Josh Freeman, Kansas State Scurfield:A three-year starter, Freeman has great size (6-5, 248), stands tall in the pocket, has a rocket for an arm and is an athletic runner. His accuracy isn't great, though, and he's not as polished in terms of mechanics as Sanchez or Stafford. Freeman is an intriguing prospect because of his physical tools, and a team in need of a quarterback won't be able to find Freeman after the first round.
4. Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State Scurfield:Bomar was a high-school All-American who drew comparisons to John Elway when he decided to play at Oklahoma. His dismissal from the Sooners in 2006 (NCAA rules violation) and his transfer to Sam Houston took him out of the spotlight, but he's the best senior QB in the draft. Bomar has a strong enough arm to make any throw and can be dangerous on the run – he's one of only 11 players in NCAA FCS history to throw for more than 300 yards and rush for more than 100 yards in a single game.
5. Pat White, West Virginia
Scurfield:His marginal size (6-0, 197) have some viewing him as a wide receiver, but White has been trying to prove to teams all offseason that he can play QB at the next level. White is the sixth-winningest QB in NCAA history and the only one ever to win four consecutive bowl games as a starter. He's also the NCAA's all-time leader in QB rushing yards and has superb speed and agility. He protects the ball well as a passer, too – never threw more than seven INTs in a season at WVU.
Michael Lombardi spent 23 years as a high-level executive in NFL personnel departments, working with the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos. He has spent 26 years evaluating college and pro football talent. He currently serves as one of the main contributors ofThe National Football Post.