The short walk from Lucas Oil Stadium to the players' hotel at the NFL scouting combine earlier this week provided a good opportunity to ask an NFL general manager what he thought of the quarterbacks available in the 2014 draft.
"It's a hard group to figure out," the GM said. "You've got teams at the top who probably feel they need to take a shot on a quarterback, but this group has a lot of 'miss' factors."
There's no consensus that Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles will develop into franchise quarterbacks. Greater ambivalence applies for the other highly rated QBs, Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo among them. When I asked personnel evaluators at the combine for their read on Manziel in particular, opinions were all over the map. One said the Texas A&M phenom scared him. Another said his team would be scared to face Manziel.
Some said this current crop of quarterbacks reminded them of the 2011 class. Six of the first 12 teams in the order needed quarterbacks that year. Tennessee, Jacksonville and Minnesota reached for shakier prospects between the eighth and 12th choices. All three teams got burned, unless Jake Locker rights his career in Tennessee. Arizona and San Francisco also needed quarterbacks that year. Instead of reaching for one, the Cardinals took Patrick Peterson fifth and the 49ers took Aldon Smith seventh. Neither player filled the QB void, but both became Pro Bowl-caliber contributors in short order.
A look at some of the other non-QBs taken early in that draft drives home warnings about drafting the position over the player. Von Miller, A.J. Green, Tyron Smith, J.J. Watt and Robert Quinn became dominant players.
This year, at least six of the first eight teams on the clock are looking for a long-term starting quarterback. Each must decide whether any of the highest-rated QBs is worth an early selection in a draft widely considered to be one of the strongest in memory -- at other positions, anyway. The Houston Texans get first crack, and that is where we'll begin our run through three leading draft dilemmas facing teams coming out of the combine.
1. Should the Texans take a QB with the first pick?
Consider this hypothetical: Would you rather have a near-certain shot at $500 or a 50 percent chance at $3,000?