Speaking at the NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., O'Brien told reporters he had met privately with UCF's Blake Bortles and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and that he would do the same with Manziel.
Houston is in the market for a quarterback; when the Texans decide to select one is the question. Do they use the No. 1 pick on a signal-caller or do they bypass a quarterback in the first round and grab one later?
Speaking about the available quarterbacks, O'Brien told reporters, "I see strengths and weaknesses with every one of them. I don't see any who are light years ahead of the rest."
Monday, O'Brien told reporters that the Texans would draft a quarterback; the question was in what round. "Where we draft that quarterback, I don't think we know that yet," he said. "We don't even know that yet. We're still in the process of studying all of these prospects."
Tuesday, O'Brien also praised the depth in this draft: "The No. 1 pick in the second round is like another No. 1 pick. Picking in the third round is like having another No. 2 pick."
O'Brien is known for his work with quarterbacks, dating to his days as a college assistant at Georgia Tech and Duke. He was New England's quarterback coach from 2008-10 and the Patriots' coordinator in 2011 before becoming Penn State's coach. He did yeoman work at Penn State in 2012 with senior Matt McGloin, then did an equally admirable job in 2013 with true freshman Christian Hackenberg.
Houston's selection at No. 1 will help set the tone for the draft on a variety of levels. Should the Texans nab a quarterback, that likely would cause some angst among other quarterback-needy teams. The flipside: Houston selecting a quarterback No. 1 means players such as South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins and Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack all of a sudden could become available to teams that didn't think they would have a shot at them.
The flipside: Houston bypassing a quarterback at No. 1 likely would mean the quarterback-needy teams would have to reconfigure their draft boards, as a quarterback they figured would be unavailable could suddenly be there for the taking.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.