HOUSTON -- Although the Houston Texans have only two quarterbacks on their roster, with Tom Savage set to be the starter next season, general manager Rick Smith said he doesn't feel pressure to take a quarterback in the first round of next week's draft.
Smith said the team wants to go into training camp with three quarterbacks on the roster, but he did not specify whether the third would be added through the draft or free agency. Along with Savage, the Texans have veteran Brandon Weeden on the roster; Houston traded last season's starting quarterback, Brock Osweiler, to the Cleveland Browns in March.
Smith said he would feel comfortable if Savage was the Texans' Week 1 starter.
"I think he's proven that he understands this offense," Smith said. "I think he's proven that he can play at a high level in the offense. He's been injured, so he hasn't had an extended amount of time to do that, but I am comfortable with that."
Still, the Texans will be at least looking for a quarterback in the draft, and Smith said he thinks there are "a lot of variables" when he is evaluating the available quarterbacks to see whether they will be successful at the NFL level. Smith started with the intangibles -- work ethic, leadership and the ability to rally people, to command a room and to handle diversity. He added that from a physical standpoint, there are certain size and speed parameters that he looks for when evaluating quarterbacks, as well as a player's "playing history" and "his style of offense that he's come from."
Smith said he thinks this is a good quarterback class, but it will come down to the specific needs those quarterbacks can fill and what a team's vision is for those players.
"There's a lot of diversity in this draft," Smith said. "And it's just a matter of in a lot of respects in this draft, it's going to be beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It's 'what is that vision for that player that we think he can come here and do for our football team' and that's a part of the evaluation process."
But even if the Texans do take a quarterback with the No. 25 pick -- or higher, if they trade up -- Smith acknowledged the difficulty of a rookie starting in his first season.
"It's difficult to play quarterback Year 1 in this league," Smith said. "Because there's so many different things that a guy has to learn how to process that he didn't have to do, regardless of the offensive scheme that he played in. There's a significant amount of things that he has to process at our level.
"And that's one of the things that makes it difficult to play the position early in our league, because guys have to learn how to do those things. It's rare that you can get a guy that can come in and play at a high level at the position early. But it's certainly possible."