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Houston Texans

Vandermeer's View: The QB Conundrum

Both Bill O'Brien and Rick Smith said this week that they would like to have free agent quarterback Ryan Mallett back. You could assume Mallett would start if he's signed but you know what they say about assuming.

Still, the fact that Mallett took over for Ryan Fitzpatrick prior to the Cleveland game, and played well before getting injured, is a pretty darn good indicator that he would be at the helm if inked to a new deal.

And if you're thinking that Mallett can't be a top flight quarterback in this league despite being drafted in the third round and sitting for most of his four NFL seasons, think again.

There are many paths to NFL quarterbacking success. Anyone telling you that a QB must be a first rounder to hit it big just isn't paying attention.

Since the NFL merger in 1970, twenty quarterbacks have been named MVP of the league. Eleven of them were not drafted in the first round. My fuzzy math tells me that's better than half the lot. The list includes Kurt Warner, Joe Montana, Rich Gannon and Tom Brady.

We just watched a Super Bowl that featured a 6th round QB, Tom Brady vs a third round QB, Russell Wilson, while undrafted MVP Kurt Warner presented the Lombardi Trophy.

Sure, the odds are better that you get a premiere signal caller in round one, but it's hardly a lock. The wake of NFL coaching and GM changes is littered with wrong decisions on first round quarterback picks.

Somehow the Texans went 9-7 in 2014 with four quarterbacks. They won four of their last five games and stayed alive for the post season until the final quarter between the Browns and the Ravens. To take the next step, to really get the offense rolling, they need to find their quarterback.

Here at the Combine, the reviews on the current draft class are mixed at best. Houston probably has no shot at Marcus Mariota and/or Jameis Winston without an expensive trade-up. And it's hardly easy money that either of those players will take your franchise to the promised land.

The Bryce Pettys and Brett Hundleys of the world might look interesting. But everybody has their critics and, based on what we've seen so far, Bill O'Brien is probably not too enthusiastic about playing a rookie anyway.

Despite being replaced following the Philadelphia game, Ryan Fitzpatrick is under contract and is coming off his best season but he did get replaced. Case Keenum is a free agent and Tom Savage has barely played.

If you were thinking about going the free agent route, the landscape includes names like Brian Hoyer, Matt Moore and Jake Locker, with Mallett being perhaps the most attractive option. If Mallett hits the open market in March, the picture could get murkier.

So, the Texans quarterback mystery continues. And until they solve it, it'll be difficult to project what kind of campaign they can put together in 2015.

Friday at the Combine, NFL hopefuls worked out and met with the media at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photos courtesy of Associated Press)

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