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Houston Texans 2014 First Draft Pick: Who Would You Choose?50 Replies, latest: 4 months ago
Greetings. The NFL draft is fast approaching, and the Texans have the first pick in the draft for the third time since 2002. (Ugh).
I'm moderating this as a draft time capsule of what various people were thinking right before the draft, and then I'm going to embed this on my blog to share with others.
I'm asking my guests to do answer the following with as many or as few words as they wish to:
1. Who do you think the Texans SHOULD draft and why? (Not who you think they will draft. Though do take into consideration what the rest of the Texans team looks like in 2014). If you want a trade down, argue for that, but then still give your pick since teams can never be guaranteed of a trade partner.
2. Feel free to link to your own or other blog posts that support your point of view.
3. It's okay if you don't have a strong feeling one way or another. If you are uncertain who you'd pick, say that because there is no requirement to be Strong Take Guy for this convo.
4. Please no profanity as I write for a newspaper blog.
Thanks to all who are participating.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyI think the Texans have a legitimately tough decision and there's a cogent argument to make for Mack, Bridgewater, Clowney or Manziel.If it were possible for them to trade down to, say, four or five and still get Mack and add a second rounder (if not more), I would say that's the best sounding option to me. If they had to stand pat, I'd suggest Clowney. I think Keenum has some promise still worth exploring and there are good options at QB to take in the second round to compete with him.
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
Both the blessing and the curse of owning the No. 1 pick in any draft resides within the opportunity it affords to select the best player available. Some years that's as simple as writing the name Andrew Luck on a piece of paper and walking away knowing that the most important position on the football field is going to be manned by a potential Hall of Famer for the next decade or so. Others present more of a hodgepodge of talent at the top that makes it difficult to discern the difference between promise that's likely to be realized and that which is more apt to break your heart while leaving a franchise and fan base embittered over all the ensuing wasted time and money.
In the latter scenario, which seemingly comes closest to describing the crop of candidates considered to be worthy of this draft's highest honor, a General Manager's two most important attributes -- talent evaluation and risk assessment -- fall under the microscope more than ever. So much must be measured and taken into consideration. Nail the pick and you're a genius. Blow it and you can go ahead and start booking your flight out of town.
I'm no GM, and Houston should give thanks every day for that reality. But each of us can at least play along within the confines of this connect-the-dots exercise, dissect what we do know (which is a relative pittance when compared to the professionals who live, eat and breathe this stuff) and conduct our own form of risk evaluation.
When I do that, Jadaveon Clowney's name emerges every time. In the absence of a slam dunk selection at QB, give me the athletic freak I can pair with one of the most dominant defensive lineman in the game today. Want to know the best way to improve your team's secondary? Put together a pass rush that's so lethal the opposing team's quarterback won't have time to go through his progressions, meaning your DBs only have to hold their own for a handful of seconds before the ball is released. Want to know a surefire way to improve your offense? Give them shorter fields to work with on a regular basis because your bad(bleep) D-Line forces a bevy of strip sacks and INTs.
The New York Giants twice parlayed that strategy into titles while knocking off New England's historically great QB and offensive attack. And though Seattle's secondary is unquestionably elite as well, there's no doubt the Seahawks' tremendous defensive line makes them look even better, paving the way for the whitewashing we just witnessed in this year's Super Bowl (against yet another historically great offense, of course).
Clowney alone does not put the Texans' in that kind of top shelf company, nor is he a sure thing, either. But to these eyes he represents the best combination of otherworldly talent and sound risk, especially when perusing through the boom-or-bust nature of this year's quarterback class.
No, Andrew Luck is not on the board. He is, however, on a division rival that Houston has no choice but to deal with for the foreseeable future. And I can think of few better ways to approach the Herculean task of keeping him in check than by lining up two titans on the opposite side, bringing out the best in each other and everyone else around them while elevating their team to higher ground in the process.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyJohnny Manziel
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
Teddy Bridgewater - I'd love to pair Clowney with Watt simply because it would be phenomenal to see what that kind of combination could do together, but it's a quarterback league and Bridgewater is an outstanding prospect.
An exceptionally intelligent pocket passer who fits perfectly with the pieces the Texans have in the short term and gives them a piece to build around on offense for the long term. It's easy to forget, but he was an outstanding prospect in college.
Russell S. Baxter
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
I think it has to be defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. There's still a lot to be said about defense in this league and the Texans aren't that far away from having a top-notch unit once again. With 11 picks in the draft, the quarterback situation could be addressed in the second or perhaps the third round depending on how the cards fall. Clowney and J.J. Watt would make for a potent pair of bookends.
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
The Houston Texans aren't nearly as bad as they looked at times last season. They have a good defense, two great receivers, a fantastic running back, a solid oline—more than anything they need a quarterback. Especially with Matt Schaub in Oaktown.
That's why for me, the pick is quarterback—even with Clowney there for the picking. Clowney would be a great pick, don't get me wrong. But is a defensive end/OLB as big a need as a quarterback? Not to me. For me that's a luxury pick, which again, is fine but not as critical.
For me, Houston has to go quarterback and if I'm going quarterback, there is nobody more ready to go than Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. Yes, the guy plummeting down major media draft boards. I've written about this at least twice in the last week, once in an attempt to guess where each of the top 8 QBs will fall, where I had Bridgewater go to Houston with No. 33 (which would be theft if they got Clowney too) and before that, in a mock draft saying what I think will happen vs what I would do. What I said in that mock stands today—the more I hear about him falling the more I wonder if we're being played. The pro day has been wildly overplayed and somehow negating the years of tape he's compiled.
Here is a guy who is pro-ready, coming out of a pro-style offense, who has won big games (including coming into a game with a hurt ankle and earning his team a BCS berth), who can fit the ball in tight windows, look off defenses and deliver the ball under pressure. With the tools already in Houston, he could step in and be tremendous. He's put on weight before, so I am really not worried about his "skinny knees" and while the pro day was bad (he should have kept the glove on), there is far more good on his film. He is, and will remain, my number one quarterback and for a team who can win now, the best choice come next Thursday.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyJohnny Manziel is going to be a SUPERSTAR. There I said it. S-U-P-E-R-S-T-A-R. I suspect that the people who have doubts about him are probably averse to his personality more than his football. He can come off as a smug jerk. So can Merril Hoge, and that hasn’t stopped him from having a successful career. I don’t care about personality, I want to win football games and the thought of Ryan Fitzpatrick + a 2nd round/3rd round understudy gives me hives. You can’t guess when the Texans are going to pick in 2015. This is the only year where they have the pick of the litter of QB’s.Anyone who thinks Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles is a better QB than Johnny Manziel is watching a different game than I am. In my opinion, the Aggies win 4 games in 2013 with either of those 2 gentleman playing QB. I know that the pro game is different than the college game, but you know what, the pro game is evolving too.Johnny Manziel is Doug Flutie if Flutie’s entire diet consisted of jolt cola and pop rocks. He is going to be an absolute playmaking terror and bring whichever team drafts him some legitimate sizzle to their otherwise stagnant brand. Other good/great players are going to want to play with this cat.With all due respect to JJ Watt, Andre Johnson, and Arian Foster, this franchise has never had a real tone or identity. Nine times out of ten, that tone is set by either the QB or the head coach. What I like about Manziel, is he doesn’t give a crap what anyone else thinks about him. He wants to beat you. He wants to dominate you and then make you know it when he is finished. He is the exact opposite of every Texans offensive player in franchise history.The Texans always like to dip their toe in the QB pool, but never have the Huevos to take the cannonball plunge. David Carr was not in Julius Pepper’s zip code as a collegiate player. Matt Schaub was a bandaid, and not the brand name kind. He was the kind where the sticky part gets all in your hair and the blood absorbing part never stays stuck. He was not a long term solution. Can you imagine a franchise playing 12 years of football without a QB that made his teammates better? (Sorry Cleveland, don’t answer that question.)I’m not sure a 1st year head coach wants to deal with the type of larger than life personality that Manziel surely brings to the table, but if O’Brien is truly in the business of winning football games, there can be only one choice Thursday May 8th, 2014, Johnny Manziel.
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
When people say adding 1 dominant, athletic freak to a defense doesn't make it whole, they're correct. However, adding 1 to a defense that already has one is, like a JJ Watt drastically improves the front 7. Improving the front 7 improves the secondary. The Seahawks laid out the blueprint to beating talented offensive teams. Shortly after the blueprint was laid out, the Texans get the opportunity to start assembling their version.
There's always talk about player A not fitting into scheme B. That's media talk. NFL coaches that are worth anything, have the knowledge to adapt their defense to available talent. The Texans have said numerous times that they want to be diverse on offense & defense. JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney are built to be diverse matchup issues. Put yourself in Andrew Luck's shoes. How do you set protection with Watt off one side, Clowney off the other, and Brian Cushing flying up the middle? You don't, you pray. Is Andrew Luck too good to combat that type of defense? I'll answer a question with a question. Was Peyton Manning too good to combat Seattle's pressure?
When life gives you lemons, you ask life what the hell are you giving me lemons for....and then you draft Jadeveon Clowney.
I've studied more film of Clowney than any other prospect in the last decade. I did so to try and find the mythical, lack of effort. He's a dominant force and one that comes in and makes an immediate impact for the team that drafts him.
After watching all of the quarterbacks, it's my opinion that there isn't one that his so much better in the first than what you could find the the 3rd or 4th. The same can't be said for Clowney's position.
Khalil Mack makes his plays in space. He's best suited to play 4-3 SOLB. While he would be a great coverage LB, you don't draft a pass rusher in the top 5 picks to play in coverage.
There are several talented offensive tackles and an offensive minded head coach may want to give his running backs and more importantly, their future franchise QB, the best chance to develop and succeed. There is a steep drop off in offensive tackles talent after the first two rounds. That said, it's still impossible for me to agree with passing on a rare breed like Clowney.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyThey will draft Clowney. They should trade down.Clowney is better off in a 4-3. He is not an outside linebacker. If the Falcons send enough their way they will be better served trading out and picking up more draft picks (at the very least a first rounder next year and a third this year along with the 6th pick this year). The Falcons will take Clowney and then any combination of these guys will go next: Matthews, Robinson, Manziel, Watkins, Mack and Bortles.It looks like Bortles would probably be there. If so, take him. With Bill O'Brien mentoring him he will flourish. it really doesn't matter who's left of those guys. They're all guys the Texans can use right now.If Johnny and Bortles are both still there, that's a tough one. As a season ticket holder I'd love to see them take Manziel so I can get 5 times what my tickets are worth from adoring Aggies. But Johnny's too big a risk in a must-have pick. If they can't trade down, take Clowney. Although he's not ideal for the position he's a freak and if he doesn't give max effort JJ will take care of that. Passing on him can get you fired. But then you've got to pray Johnny will be a bust too because passing on him in this town will cost you your job as well.
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
If I had an idea whether Bill O'Brien had a track record for molding his offense around the skills of his talents as opposed to demanding his talents to fit within the boundaries of his system, then I'd recommend a quarterback. The two I'd consider are Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel.
I like Bridgewater the most among the passers in this class. One of the flaws I see with the NFL's evaluation process is a tendency to magnify certain attributes to the point that it overshadows flaws that could be "knockout" factors that prohibit prospects from transitioning to the NFL. At the same time, the NFL doesn't trust the value of prospects average physical attributes and excellent on-field skills.
There's an understandable arrogance within the NFL where it needs players to prove their football intelligence can translate a notch upward in the same way that the league is often skeptical about college systems making the transition to NFL playbooks. Bridgewater's game fits this collective skepticism in the same way there was some with Drew Brees, Joe Montana, and Russell Wilson.
Forget the pro day and the anonymous executives who are critiquing Bridgewater's leadership skills and "it" factor. The combination of the quarterback's smarts, focus, work ethic, accountability, and toughness are as good as any prospect at the position that has come along in the past decade. NFL teams don't have to have cameras and media in the room during interviews or reveal the results of intelligence and pscyhological examinations the way they grant access to workouts.
This behind-closed-doors part of the process gives teams a chance to use it as a rationale to downgrade a player for reasons it may not feel comfortable explaining to the public. Bridgewater's singular flaw is his deep velocity, which based on my film study is correctable because there's opportunity for the QB to drive the ball more than he's shown on tape.
Arm strength and velocity are two areas quarterbacks routinely improve with weight training, and sharpening of throwing technique. What's difficult to improve is pocket presence, anticipation, creating when the play breaks down, and the toughness not to go into a shell when the going gets tough. Bridgewater possesses these qualities in abundance.
Why I think Bridgewater should be the pick, but isn't my overall choice for the Texans is that coaching staff and front office. If O'Brien and Smith are not sold on running a west coast style offense and want to lean harder on a player with a rocket arm then the closest option who fits that bill is Manziel.
The Texas A&M; quarterback may frustrate quarerback purists who nitpick technique or coaching traditionalists who want players who run their system like a replacable cog in a machine, but there are enough coaches and systems in the NFL that would be excellent fits for this young quarterback.
Manziel's creativity, athleticism, arm, and field vision are strong enough for him to develop into one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the league. The key will be a system that allows him to build on his strengths while minimizing his weaknesses.
I believe Manziel is a savvy enough player to adjust to the flow of the NFL game and make adjustments to some of his wild flights from the pocket. Despite what people think, Manziel's moves in the pocket are more deliberate than they appear.
Manziel is the more vocal leader and traditionalists of the NFL will have more confidence in his style than Bridgewater, who is quieter. However, Joe Montana was a quiet leader who commanded a football team's respect and was vocal when needed. Bridgwater is also a far more polished player when it comes to reads and executing a variety of plays from center.
That said, if the player doesn't fit the direction of what the team wants from a quarterback it makes more sense to invest in a player who does. It means Khalil Mack or Jadeveon Clowney are the best match for what the team is doing. Mack is the more polished player in terms of technique, but Clowney's athleticism, feel for the game, and upside in a situation where he'll benefit from J.J. Watt's presence is too tempting to ignore.
Some of the better teams in football build on a defensive strength and then either come around to molding scheme to a quarterback (Seattle, San Francisco) or find a free agent who sees the opportunity to be that missing piece (Denver, Vikings with Favre).
Give me Clowney not only for his upside and the chance to build on a strength, but also because I'm not sure if O'Brien and Smith are willing to be flexible with the long-term offensive vision. If so, Bridgewater might be there late in the first round to trade up.
Aaron Schatz (Football Outsiders)
Added by: Stephanie StradleyI had to answer this question for an ESPN Insider feature that will run next week... shhh... I'm just going to repeat that here.There's no magical analytic equation to tell an NFL team who to draft. Projecting guys from college to the pros is still one of the most difficult things in football; even for positions where we've developed projections, those formulas are imperfect. Scouting still plays the biggest role here. Where analytics can best play a role is in determining not who to pick, but rather how to best use picks to get the most value compared to the other 31 teams.Khalil Mack and Jadaveon Clowney are the best players available if you ask "how good is this player compared to the average starter at his position?" And pass rush is a hugely important part of the game. But ask yourself: how often does a team with a top quarterback go far in the playoffs, and how often does a team with top pass rushers go far in the playoffs? To give just one example: last year's final four featured two of the top veteran quarterbacks and two of the top young quarterbacks, but no pass rusher with 12 or more sacks. We can't discount the seasons guys like Robert Mathis and Greg Hardy had, but most of the top pass rushers in recent years have played for non-playoff teams: Cameron Wake in Miami, Robert Quinn and Chris Long in St. Louis, Jared Allen in Minnesota, Mario Williams in Buffalo (and in Houston when they weren't a playoff team yet).If the Texans want to take a quarterback, then you get to the confusing problem of which quarterback to take. I still favor Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater was considered the top guy all season long, when we watched what players do on the field. He's taken a hit since the season ended, but because of things we've seen when guys are wearing shorts and t-shirts and not facing a pass rush. Drafting a quarterback, I would consider film first, stats second, physical measureables third, and pre-draft non-game workouts something like 856th. Bridgewater is poised, efficient, smart, and mobile within the pocket -- which in the NFL is often more important than being mobile outside the pocket. I can't tell you that stats predict Bridgewater will be a superstar, but I can tell you they predict that he WON'T be a bust. Is there some risk? Yes. What draft pick has no risk?
Added by: Stephanie StradleyI have been saying this for quite sometime now but I think it is worth repeating for the umpteenth time.Johnny Manziel is going to get some one fired. I'm just not sure if it's the person who takes him or the person who passes on him. I think he is the biggest risk early in the draft just due to the fact that he is the biggest boom or bust pick early on. I think he is going to be a stud but I also could see him crash hard.With that said, I think a bold move is needed for the Texans and I think they should take him.
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
It should be Teddy Bridgewater. He may not be Andrew Luck right out of the gate, but he has the potential to bring an Andrew Luck-like impact to this Houston offense. With the weapons they have in place there -- Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, Arian Foster, etc. -- it's not the time to take a project QB or to test the waters with either Ryan Fitzpatrick or Case Keenum. Put a legit No. 1 quarterback under center there, and the offense could be formidable from the get-go.
Clowney is the other play, not a trade down. He's the top prospect in this draft and has all the skill to be a perennial All-Pro. If the choice is to wait on a QB, for whatever reason, then taking the best player on the board is preferable to trading down for a lesser option plus whatever comes from the additional picks.
But if the Texans really want to turn this thing around in a hurry, it's not happening with Clowney and a three-man QB competition. It might happen with Bridgewater running the show.
Stephanie StradleyMy view? For the quarterback position in particular, the head coach really needs to behind that pick. More than anyone else. Quarterback choices tend to define coaches, for better or worse.That's something I don't know. Have no idea which of this class of QBs is a Bill O'Brien guy(s). He's said good things about different quarterbacks in this draft who have different strengths and weaknesses. And he doesn't want to tip his hand.That being the case, if he isn't in love with any QB at 1/1, one worth the opportunity costs of not getting a non-QB, then I would with what I know draft Jadeveon Clowney.This draft in particular, I tend to be fairly open minded about. As this chat is showing, reasonable people have a reasonable difference of opinion on who the best choice is. Maybe that is what defines the 2014 draft.Sometimes after reading blog comments, I just hope that the best guy's name isn't too hard to spell.Further thoughts here: "The open-minded fan's guide to the NFL draft." Has a lot of Texans specific examples, but applies to every team.
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
Taking the best player in the draft rarely gets you fired. Jadeveon Clowney's the best player in this draft. Take him and pair him with a quarterback from the top of the second round (if you can't trade back in).
It's not an ideal situation because the Texans need QB help. But if you go with Bridgewater, Bortles or Manziel at 1 and they're not the answer while Clowney tears up the league (or division, if he goes to Jacksonville) a lot of people will lose their jobs.
I'd be fine with Khalil Mack at 1 too or even Sammy Watkins if the Texans weren't already stacked at WR.
The larger point is that in this class if you take a quarterback No. 1 you're taking him for need instead of him being the best available player, and that's a poor draft strategy.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyThe Texans have a tough decision no doubt. A few quick thoughts.1. I do not buy the fact the Texans will trade out. The Texans have to create a market for the pick, but there is too much risk to trade into the #1 slot.2. Risk seems higher with these top overall picks. Especially with the two of the top 5 players in the draft in Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel. The potential seems to be there, but both have their respective baggage.3. The Texans need to play the percentages. Let the quarterbacks fall and take the best player in the draft.4. People tend to forget that besides quarterback issue, pass rush was almost as big of issue for the Texans in 2013 which sent a ripple effect throughout the defense.The Pick Should Be:Jadeveon Clowney. It's pretty simple, Clowney is the most gifted player in the draft and still raw when it comes to the game. He has technique issues and took the easy way out in college for the simple reason of "he could still produce taking the easy route."He needs coaching and understand he has not even tapped his potential as a player. A genetic freak, but still has to work to become a better football player. If he can get his football technique to match what his skill level is and still could be, he could be one for the ages.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyI believe the Texans taking Jadeveon Clowney is a no brainer. Throw out the bs effort questions, throw out the sack total from this past season, this is the one guy in this draft who can single handedly take over a game to the point where the other team can't do anything about it. Even if you block him, its going to take so much to get it done that you're going to allow his teammates to make a lot of plays. His physical tools are beyond impressive and so are his instincts. All he needs now is a little bit of technique work and he is going to be just about unblockable.Pair him with Watt on defense and it makes everybody's job easier including the offense which most weeks won't have to try to win in a shoot out. With Andrew Luck in the division for the foreseeable future the thing the Texans had better understand is that he is their white whale because if they cant win the division then they're going to have a hell of a time ever winning a Superbowl. You can take your chance selecting a QB and hoping they can eventually out duel Luck on a regular basis, OR you can take the one guy who will give Luck nightmares for the next ten years. I know my choice...
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
The one comment I'm sick of hearing is "what an unlucky year for the Texans to have the number one pick in the draft."
So, adding the sickest defensive prospect in a generation next to the best defensive player in the league is a bad thing? Gee, what rotten luck!
By that intro, I'm sure you can see who I'm going to tell you the Texans will pick. I'm not buying the trade down stuff because two and three usually gets the best offers and plenty of teams believe we're bluffing and will be taking a quarterback. No, I think Houston stays at number one and does what you should do with the top overall pick in a draft; pick the best player.
I stood firm on the belief that we had to take a quarterback with this pick all through January. Nothing could change my mind. Well, that was until the Super Bowl.
I'm not going to use the same old tired line of "it's a copycat league," but you'd have to be blind not to see the chance to build a defense like Seattle won a title with last season. A core of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney is almost stupid good.
The excuse of not wanting to pay him and Watt five years down the road is about the dumbest logic against taking Clowney I've ever heard. Are you not going to have to pay a quarterback even more if he hits? And saying that he isn't a scheme fit is about the most stubborn narrative possible. If you show me a defensive coordinator who can't use J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, well I'll show you a defensive coordinator that's bad at his job.
In the end, this is a no-brainer pick, in my opinion. Yes, the Texans need a quarterback. But, no, none of those here are good enough to reach for number one overall when you have a prospect with Hall of Fame potential sitting in the Green Room.
The pick, if Houston stays at number one, should be Clowney and the pick will be Clowney. Or I believe we will be talking on here about who should be the Texans next head coach in three years.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyThe Texans should draft a quarterback and it should be Johnny Manziel.I don't think trading the pick is an option. The Falcons aren't interested in trading up for Clowney and I don't really see any other teams making a run at it.I like Clowney, but I don't see how he fits with the Texans. He would undoubtedly be a force as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but it would add two 'freelancers' to the front seven. It would also be a salary cap nightmare in four years, if Clowney turns out to be what everyone expects.The Texans need to draft a quarterback. No, there isn't a 'clear number one pick' so why not take a player with huge upside at a position you need?There's always a chance Manziel is a bust, but Clowney could easily be the next Mario Williams. Mario has turned into a nice player, but his teams have never really experienced success.Drafting Manziel would be a roll of the dice for something great. If you prefer another QB to him, then I'm ok with that. If O'Brien likes Bortles or Bridgewater more, then they should draft them. But the pick should be quarterback.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyThe Texans are in an unfortunate position in that there are plenty of team needs. The metrics we use at numberFire.com suggest that Houston finished in the bottom six in three of the four major statistical categories (pass/rush defense and pass/rush offense), meaning there are plenty of holes to fill.I think Clowney is the best player for them to choose, but may not fill the need a quarterback would. Unfortunately, the quarterback's available don't appear to be number one pick worthy.That's why you have folks saying it's a bad year for the Texans to be in the number one spot. Do you take the chance on a passer with the potential to enter QB purgatory, or go with what seems to be the obvious pick in Jadeveon Clowney?The potential negative ramifications choosing the wrong quarterback at this pick could have on the team is huge. Given the hit rate with a guy like Clowney seems much more reasonable, I'd look his way. He's versatile, able to play all over the field, and could create one of the best defensive fronts in the AFC for years to come alongside JJ Watt.No quarterback for me. It's all about Clowney.
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
The Texans should draft Teddy Bridgewater. While he's taken a beating in the court of public opinion since his infamous Pro Day, I still believe he's the best quarterback prospect in this draft and the most likely to succeed in the NFL. The Texans do not currently have a long-term answer at QB on the roster, and they may not even have a short-term answer at the position. Bridgewater is smart, accurate, and did virtually everything you could ask him to do in a pro-style offense at Louisville. I do not think the transition will be too big for him, and I expect him to have a long and productive NFL career.
Although there have been a handful of teams that found success with mediocre QB play in the NFL, the overwhelming majority of successful teams have had very good to great quarterback play. Not to put too fine a point on it, but QUARTERBACK IS EVERYTHING. While I normally adhere to the notion of taking the best player available, there are exceptions to the maxim, and one of those has to be here (assuming you don't believe Bridgewater is the best player in the draft). Draft Teddy and you have addressed the issue at QB for the next decade.
For what it's worth, I believe the Texans will actually draft Jadeveon Clowney if another team isn't willing to meet what should be a steep asking price for the No. 1 pick. I fear that's going to make the "TEDDY FOREVER" tattoo I got across my back after the Week 17 loss to Tennessee look rather dumb.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyJadeveon F. Clowney should be the Houston Texans' selection with the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. My basic reasoning is fairly simple: I believe Jadeveon Clowney to be clearly the most talented prospect available in this draft class. Period.When a team has just completed an utter debacle of a season, that team should certainly not be in the business of passing on superior talent for needs. Heck, the Texans could use reinforcements at nearly every position. If I've learned anything over the last several years following the NFL Draft, I've realized the practice of passing over talent eventually manifests itself in on-field performance that falls short of expectations. If that practice is repeated too often, the team ends up deficient in talent relative to the resources it has invested in its roster. Without enough players exceeding expectations to make up for those who don't, well, the team simply fails. More often than not, and usually sooner rather than later, talent wins out.Of course, scheme and organizational fit has to be considered, but to me that is also a factor in assessing the talent of each prospect. In the case of Jadeveon Clowney, the Texans have one of the better NFL situations to provide optimal results in his development. If Romeo Crennel made impact 3-4 OLBs out of Willie McGinest, Mike Vrabel, and Tamba Hali, I'm fairly confident he could do the same given a player with Clowney's exceptional physical profile. Crennel also has Vrabel on his Houston coaching staff (LBs) along with the venerable Bill Kollar (DL), the lone holdover from the previous staff. The Texans even happen to employ Craig Fitzgerald as Strength and Conditioning coach, who coincidentally coached Clowney as a freshman at South Carolina. I trust this group of coaches to maximize a player like Clowney's output as a pro and minimize his perceived flaws as a prospect. Then there's the idea of putting him in a defensive room and on a front-7 that already has noted football maniacs J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing to maintain expectations on and off the field.As much as some consider the Texans' roster to be solid and close to returning to a competitive level, a critical view of the roster reveals that it is lacking in several areas and is certainly not just a QB away from returning to the Playoffs. I could possibly see the rationale of a need at QB, the most crucial position in football, leading to an exception to the rule of drafting the best player available. I just don't think applying that exception is the most prudent course for the Texans at the top of the 2014 draft. This is because 1) I don't believe enough in any of the QBs available in this class' being capable of leading a team to a Championship, thus worthy of the 1st overall pick, AND 2) I believe Jadeveon Clowney is the best defensive prospect coming out of college in the last 10 years (since Miami safety Sean Taylor in 2004. R.I.P.). If I'm not sold that a QB is going to hit, then I take the player I believe adds the most overall value to the team. If someone told me a year ago the Texans would have a shot at Jadeveon in this draft, I would've been annoyed at the suggestion and shrugged it off as ludicrous. Yet here they are with this phenomenal football specimen staring at them. I simply would NOT pass on the opportunity to draft Clowney for any of these QBs (or anyone else).I don't believe the top of this QB class to be so clearly superior to the middle tiers, whereas I think Clowney is the best prospect overall by a pretty fair margin. That's where any internal debate ends for me. I think he is going to be an absolute terror as a pro and have since even before he was in college. His first two seasons at USC affirmed that belief, and his final, lackluster season was not enough to dissuade me from it. Details of his collegiate exploits have been parsed ad nauseam to this point, so I don't feel the need to rehash them. I will just state that I'm firmly planted on the side of the fence that thinks the guy is going to be a special NFL player.If the Texans happen to go in a different direction, I'll be open to whatever the rationale is for their course of action, be it a trade or a different player. How-EV-a, I'd have to be pretty impressed with that explanation to not feel some degree of disappointment if Jadeveon F. Clowney ends up somewhere other than H-Town, Texas.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyI know I'm an outcast on this subject among many Texans bloggers, but I still think it should be Johnny Manziel.In my opinion, the incredible emphasis on draft coverage these days leads to one major oversight. People become so entrenched in a "don't blow the pick" mentality that they focus exclusively on the pick and its odds, rather than the broader big picture goal -- which is to consistently contend for a Super Bowl.I've heard the "Seattle model" tossed out in regards to Clowney. In actuality, the Seattle model is based as much on quantity as it is quality. The depth across the board at every defensive position is staggering. Moreover, because of the high number of pieces involved, that "model" is more vulnerable to cap casualties and high roster turnover.The easiest model that most consistently puts your team in a position to contend for a ring each January is to have a star quarterback. Each year, we hear about the issues plaguing the likes of New England, Indianapolis (and now Denver), and each year they steal games they shouldn't win with great QB poise and savvy and find themselves with a chance every postseason.From everything I've seen, Manziel can be that level of quarterback. He has the arm strength, accuracy, intelligence, competitiveness, desire and off-field dedication to be a star at the NFL level. I have some minimal concerns over durability and his ability to avoid big hits, but I do think that issue can be improved via coaching and by having a more balanced team around him than the one he had at Texas A & M.Could he bust? Absolutely. As with any QB, there's a higher bust risk than most other positions. There's a lower *percentage chance* you hit on Manziel than you do on Clowney. On the other hand, if you do hit... the upside is more than worth it, because that caliber of QB alone can put you in a position to contend for a ring almost every year.I'm not an Aggie. If/when the Texans pass on Manziel, I'm not going to call for a boycott. I'll cheer on Clowney and be as big of a fan as ever. Additionally, I trust Bill O'Brien's evaluation process on QBs much more than my own, and if he doesn't think Manziel is THAT level of quarterback, I'm willing to trust his judgment. But from everything I know as I sit here today, I believe in Manziel's ability to become an elite NFL quarterback. And if that scenario pans out, the upside of permanent stability at that position dwarfs any other possibility in this draft -- including Clowney.
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
I hope this letter finds you well. In response to this call to action, I think the Texans should draft Johnny Manziel with the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and my reasons are as follows:
1. Johnny Manziel is the best player in this draft at the most important position in team sports, a position at which the Texans have never had a "difference maker" in their entire history. (Sorry, Tony Banks.)
2. Johnny Manziel has balls. The Texans have had ballsy players, but have never had a quarterback with balls (Sorry, Dave Ragone). Manziel did all of his work under the brightest lights against the best competition at the biggest moments. Put simply, if there are two minutes left in a football game, and Johnny Manziel's team is trailing and he has the football, I'd rather be rooting for Manziel's team than the other team. I've NEVER felt this way as a Texans fan, and that blows. (Sorry, Sage Rosenfels.)
3. Johnny Manziel can beat his opponent any number of ways -- running the ball, throwing the ball on the run, throwing from the pocket, throwing salt in their eyes... I would hate to have to game plan for him. In fact, I think he's so good with his legs that he gets pigeon holed as a "running quarterback" when he was actually incredibly proficient in the pocket last year. How do you like that? Johnny Manziel is TOO good at running the football! When have the Texans had a quarterback that was TOO good….or moderately good, for that matter…at anything? (Sorry, Rex Grossman.)
4. The quarterback position is the only position in football where one person can single handedly change a team's fortunes, and by FAR the highest success rate at locating a franchise QB is at 1/1 in the draft. It's not even close. Even if you think Jadeveon Clowney has a 90% chance of being a perennial Pro Bowler, it still mathematically makes more sense to draft Manziel (or any QB) if you think that guy has a 40% chance of being a franchise QB. Put differently, the Texans had the best defensive player in the universe and went 2-14 last season. The best QB in the universe could have One Direction as his offensive line and King Joffrey as his top wide out and go 9-7. So draft Clowney, best case he blows up, and go 6-10 with Fitzpatrick holding Garoppolo's pee pee for him. YAY. Draft a good QB, and get into the playoff discussion, at a minimum. Actual, non sarcastic YAY!!!
5. Speaking of Watt and Clowney, if Clowney is so damn sure of a thing, then why is it that so much of the analysis of why the Texans should take him centers around J.J. Watt? Bring up drafting Clowney, and the first thing people say -- oooohhh, imagine Clowney and J.J. WATT TOGETHER!! When Clowney's questionable motor and thirst for success are brought up -- ooohhh, don't worry, J.J. WATT will take care of that!! Um, if the dude is the 1/1 pick in the draft, why is the analysis so lathered in the presence of another player? Sorry, but I just don't think a guy you're taking with the first pick should have so much of his value or realization of value tied to another individual.
6. Johnny Manziel has massive hands. MASSIVE. This matters, I'm told. (Also, I hate myself that I know another man's hand size.)
7. Have I mentioned how much more fun it will be with Johnny Manziel as the quarterback here? Let's think selfishly for once everybody! Are you looking more forward to a 2014 where Jadeveon Clowney is clomping around like a baby deer still learning how to walk (albeit a pretty stout one) with Ryan Fitzpatrick effing up on a weekly basis while Zack Mettenberger eats boogers on the sidelines, or Johnny Manziel shoving all of his chips into the middle of the table and doubling down on 13 because "EFF YOU!"?!? (If you answer Clowney/Fitzpatrick/Mettenboogers, the vanilla soft serve machine is down the hall and to the right.)
One thing I am almost certain of -- this whole thing will get botched royally, because Houston.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyI believe they should draft Clowney, play him in a hybrid role and solve two major issues at once.That would enable them to move Brooks Reed inside and add to the depth there. Reed has been largely ineffective at OLB but might be better suited inside. If so, the Texans will have one of the most interesting linebacking groups in the AFC.The quarterback issue needs to be dealt with, but I believe at least one (maybe more) of the top tier QBs will slip to round 2, giving the Texans plenty of options. Whoever they draft at QB is unlikely to have an instant impact, so building a stronger defense will help the team be competitive until the new QB is able to win games for them.I can see the case for Johnny Manziel and the QB position is critical, but I think he is too much of a risk to take No. 1 when you can fill three key needs with two picks.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyIt's about making plays. Period. It's about the most important player on the field making plays that win games.Some things about football are very complicated, but this is simple. Johnny Manziel has made the most plays of any player on either side of the ball in this draft. He plays the most important position on the field and he proved himself in the toughest league college football knows. This is easy. Draft Manziel.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyRounding up the top quarterbacks for one last predraft film session this weekend, I popped Teddy Bridgewater's Cincinnati game into my Draft-o-Matic 5000. And then I saw him. Teddy Schaubwater: the ultimate Gary Kubiak quarterback. Coping with icy conditions and a good defense, Bridgewater was all rollout waggles and checkdowns, his usually pinpoint accuracy spotty. He pulled out a Houdini win with some amazing plays in the fourth quarter, but if you are looking for The Amazing Houdini, why not draft Johnny Manziel?It hit me then that while I still think Teddy Bridgewater will be a heck of a quarterback, he would be a terrible quarterback for the Texans. And while Blake Bortles has lots of upside, he is simply not a first-overall value. The first-overall values in this draft are Manziel, Clowney, Greg Robinson, Jake Mathews, Sammy Watkins, and (I suppose) Khalil Mack, though Mack strikes me as a player who makes a good team great but won't make a bad team good.Erasing Watkins and the tackles from the Texans board due to lack of need, we are back where we started last September, with Manziel and Clowney. I love them both. I have almost no concerns about their off-field personas. And both can help the Texans.In the end, the temptation to add Clowney to that defense is too great, especially when so many decent quarterback prospects will be hanging around in the second round. But I can understand why the Texans have been broadcasting their desire to trade down for three months. If I am playing in an awful division that will reward my team quickly, and I am already set with solid skill position players, a decent line, and a perennial defensive MVP candidate, I would rather have Mack and, say, the Jaguars second round pick than either Clowney or Manziel.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyHere's the deal: It's not easy to trade away the first pick. Just isn't. Especially when the draft is as deep as it is this season.For a long time, I was in the "you have to draft a quarterback" camp, then the quarterback I like the most has been treated like he has leprosy. So if I can get the best player and my favorite quarterback ... I'm in.So here's what I'd do: draft Jadeveon Clowney. He's the best player in the draft. There's no need to overthink it. Maybe you look around at a trade scenario but I doubt the Texans will get a great offer; if they do, they can take it.Then, if I'm the GM, I get ready to pounce as the first round is winding down. Teddy Bridgewater and his bad pro day and skinny knees might just slide into my lap at 33 but if he doesn't, I'm willing to move ahead of Cleveland at 26 to get him. I think Bridgewater can come into the NFL and be a productive player tomorrow.But say Bridgewater goes in the teens and I'm just not willing to part with the picks I'd have to give up to get there ... what do I do at 33? Well, then I'd take Zach Mettenberger from LSU. Of the second-tier guys (Bridgewater is still first-tier in my book), he's my favorite. In real life the Texans haven't shown any interest. But this isn't real life! I'm calling the shots.And you didn't ask but I'm telling you anyway. With the third round pick (if the Texans still have it) I'm looking at an offensive lineman but I'm seriously taking a glance at the running back position. There will be some serious talent still there, maybe Bishop Sankey or Tre Mason.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyI think the Texans should select the quarterback they deem best available -- and I think they should trade down to do it.Look, when you strip away all the ancillary garbage about Jadeveon Clowney's "motor," there's little doubt that he has the potential for NFL greatness. But does he have that in a two-gap variable scheme? Hard to say. I could also see the Texans looking hard at Buffalo's Khalil Mack, given the franchise's current linebacker and non-J.J. Watt pass-rusher issues. But in the end, Houston needs to begin the process of team rejuvenation, and there's no better way to do that than with a franchise-defining quarterback.Problem is, there might not be a ready-made franchise-definer in this draft. At least, not right away. Fortunately for the Texans, though... their new head coach has quite a nice history of quarterback development. So, whichever quarterback Bill O'Brien likes the best, that's the one who should go.The trade-down aspect comes into play if Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff (possibly egged on by Assistant GM Scott Pioli) decides to do what he does a lot, and become so enamored by the shiny thing at the top of his own board, he forgets that his team is hemorrhaging depth at several positions. Dimitroff has a history of bold moves, and if the Atlanta brain trust is in love with Clowney, or Khalil Mack, or whoever, and the right value is given, the Texans can still get their new signal-caller later.And those extra picks in trade could be used to shore up some of the positional issues the Texans have developed over the last few seasons. Because, here's the thing: You don't go 2-14 simply because your quarterback stinks, though it may have seemed so last year to those who had to suffer through the Schaubnado. But if you want to extricate yourself from that particular canyon, smart quarterback development over time is an absolute necessity.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyClowney is the pick here. Look at the defensive lines of recent Super Bowl winners, Seahawks included. Many had great depth. All could get after the passer. With Clowney as the best player in the draft, with J.J. Watt on the other side, it makes too much sense not to go Clowney here. Then you go QB with the first pick of the second round.
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
I might be in the minorty on this (do you see me going around begging for special treatment though? didnt think so.) But I say you draft J' Lazy Mon Clowny. You build up game tape on him over the next 3 years and show how many plays he "takes off" and doesnt even get a single sackfumble and then you submit that as evidents to the labor judge to demonstrate colluson among NFL players. Net result= contracts that run play-to-play,, not year-to-year. You get benched in the 3rd quater? Guess what your not getting your check. I dont get paid unless I get out there and do my job and sing up new people for herblelife, why do they get paid if they dont apply pressure to the QB?
Welcome to the real world Clown-ey.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyIf they stay at No. 1, they should draft Clowney.But I'd have no problem with them trading out, and I don't think they have to break the bank with an RGIII-like mother lode to justify it. The rationale for such a deal needs to be that they have questions about Clowney, not that they are feeling desperate to get a quarterback but don't see one worthy of No. 1.If they believe Mack will be a better player for them and has a more reliable motor, and they can bump back and get him, I wouldn't complain.Maybe Clowney is a once-in-a-generation player. I'm not so sure.I am sure this is a deep draft and having a lot of picks in it can do a lot to restock a roster of a bad team under a new coaching staff.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyQuarterbacks matter a great deal, but they aren't the only position that matters. You don't go 2-14 just because of the quarterback and you don't go 14-2 just because of the quarterback. As a result, the Texans should take the best player available in the draft and then go from there.This year, that's Jadeveon Clowney. Put together a defense that makes the opposition tremble and it is going to make any quarterback look better. You can just ask Mark Sanchez about that and the Texans have every reason to believe they could wind up with a better quarterback than that with the first pick of the second round.The Texans should be confident that Bill O'Brien can join his scheme to a quarterback at that spot (if not, why hire him?) so there's no particular reason not to take Clowney and set about building a defense that can carry them back to the top of the AFC South.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyJust take Clowney, pair him with Watt, and dominate.Do we really think "effort" is going to be an issue for anyone on the defensive side of the ball in Houston? One look from JJ in the huddle will take care of that.None of these quarterbacks are worth even a Top 10 pick, let alone the first overall selection. Clowney's outside pressure paired with Watt collapsing pockets from the interior will be giving offenses nightmares for a decade.Yes, they'll still have to solve the quarterback position. That's why there are six more rounds in the draft.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyFor comedy's sake, I'd love nothing more than to see Roger Goodell sashay up to the podium at Radio City Music Hall at 8 p.m. ET Thursday, and just as he's about to announce the Texans' first-overall pick, David Carr repels from the rafters, hip-checks Goodell into the first row and screams into the microphone, "DEREK CARR. THE TEXANS ARE TAKING DEREK CARR!" Then David proclaims, "Sic semper tyrannis! The South is avenged!" before running up the aisle and into the streets never to be seen again.Back on Earth, if the Texans can't trade down, I expect them to take Jadeveon Clowney. Yes, they need a quarterback but that doesn't mean they have to take one No. 1 (see above). And while it's impossible to be a legit Super Bowl contender without a franchise QB, Houston has plenty of other holes to fill. And I think they can get by with some combination of Case Keenum or Ryan Fitzpatrick for a year, in much the same way the Chiefs went from 2-14 to 11-5 with Alex Smith last season.Clowney, much like Mario Williams eight years ago, is as close to a safe pick as you're going to get. There has been speculation that linebacker Khalil Mack could also be in the mix, and maybe he is. But whenever I think about that possibility, linebacker Aaron Curry, considered the safest pick in in the '09 draft, immediately comes to mind. The idea of Clowney and JJ Watt wreaking havoc on the rest of the AFC South for the next decade is an attractive one, especially with Romeo Crennel as the defensive coordinator.And remember this: Yes, Clowney's technically a defensive end, but with all the sub-package football defenses are playing now, what's to keep Crennel from moving him all over the field based on down and distance?
Added by: Stephanie StradleyJadeveon Clowney is the surest high-impact player in this draft. Yes, the Texans will need to figure out who their next franchise quarterback will be. But that doesn't have to happen right this very second. Bill O'Brien will have the time to find one, and he has the evaluation skills to do so.But you can't pass on a talent like Clowney, even with all of his supposed warts. Can you imagine Clowney and JJ Watt on that defensive line? I bet O'Brien can, and I think he's going to make it happen.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyRemember when you think real quickly about something and your gut tells you what to do … then you think some more and change your mind and end up kicking yourself for it?Welcome to the NFL draft.The Texans should be trying to trade the pick. That would be my first plan of action. But everyone knows it’s hard to trade that top pick and they might not have a suitor. I’ve been told by multiple sources the Falcons are still interested in trying to trade up, but that can all change on draft day.The Texans should pick Jadeveon Clowney and then if they want to think about it, they still should come to the conclusion they should pick Clowney. He’s a player that doesn’t come along very often, kind of like J.J. Watt. Wait am I the first person to use those two names in the same sentence? I bet I am. Clowney has all the talent in the world. He’s a converted running back who now eats running backs for crying out loud. If you question his work ethic this past season here are a few things to think about.1) Put yourself in his shoes (or cleats). Imagine being the sure fire first overall selection LAST YEAR and being forced to play yet another season before you can get that opportunity again. How frustrating is that? How would you handle that year?2) Compound that with the fact that he was on the sideline and watched his teammate Marcus Lattimore get his knee destroyed. He witnessed Lattimore go from the best running back in the draft to being a late round pick by the 49ers and still has yet to play.3) The Texans strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald used to be Clowney’s S&C; coach at South Carolina. I think he’ll have an idea on his work ethic and what he’s about. D.J. Swearinger was also a teammate of his and Johnathan Joseph is from his home town and has known him for almost his entire life. Also the father of the Texans new defensive quality control coach, Will Lawing, was also Clowney’s defensive line coach at South Carolina. Just a few people you can bounce a few questions off don’t you think?There are also so many options with quarterbacks after that first pick it’ll be fun to watch and see who Bill O’Brien believes he can mold into a starting quarterback. I know Johnny Manziel is who many believe the Texans should take at #1. He’s great. I watched his pro day first hand and was blown away until some golf cart holding two elderly people pulled up in front of me. Rumor has it they’re kind of important. But what if he busts? Admit it, it could happen. Would you rather have the QB you take at 33 bust and still have Clowney on your roster, or have Manziel bust and be without Clowney? Exactly.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyThey should take Jadeveon Clowney or trade down, but they will be lucky to get a 2nd and a 2015 3rd in a trade down, so they should just take the rarest talent on the board. Clowney and Watt on the same side of the formation looks lethal, and Clowney absolutely has the movement skills to play OLB in the 3-4. Don't pay attention to worries about effort, lack of stats in his last year at SCarolina, he was playing through painful bone spurs and you can see it at the end of plays. this one is a layup for Rick Smith.
Bobby Big Wheel
Added by: Stephanie StradleyLast year the Texans had one of the best players in the league, a once-in-a-generation defensive disruptor who changes the way offenses attack their defense. Oh, and he was only 24. But in spite of J.J. Watt's presence, the Texans went 2-14 and played well enough to get the first pick in the 2014 draft.Greg Cosell has said that if you have a quarterback rated as a first rounder then you have to take him no matter where he falls. The aforementioned example is a bit reductive, but the point that I'm trying to make is that if you know that you can get an upgrade at quarterback then you have to take it. A franchise quarterback is worth more than a once-in-a-lifetime defender.Which brings me to Teddy Bridgewater. With his quick release and accuracy he's like a lesser Dan Marino. 20-25 teams would gladly take a lesser Dan Marino over the option that they have now. And the Texans' option right now is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who went to Harvard. The only people who think that means anything either a) went to Harvard themselves or b) never met anyone that went to Harvard. Seriously, Harvard isn't that special. Kissinger taught there.You can probably make the case for Manziel as well, but i think Bridgewater the surer bet. I still think he'll go in the top 5 because his recent drop in mock drafts is probably bullshit made up by the dehumanizing draft-industrial complex. He's a near-lock to be a 10-year starter at QB. Do the smart thing and take him, Texans.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyIf zillions of pre-draft mocks can be trusted (they can't, but let's pretend), then the Texans should be able to land both Clowney and a quarterback with their first two picks. That really needs to be the plan.It seems silly to pass on a pass-rusher with Clowney's talent, his tape and his superhero-level athleticism. You don't do it, not in this draft. After snagging Jadeveon at the top, Houston should consider trading the second round pick plus a sweetener to get a late-first rounder, something in the mid-20s overall.With that choice, Bridgewater would be my priority. I understand the worries about his pro day to an extent. But the kid has delivered nothing but stellar game-days for the past two years. Last year's numbers are just silly: 71.0 completion percentage, 31 TDs, only 4 picks. He remains my favorite QB in this draft.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyThe best option, in my opinion, for the Texans in this draft is a trade down scenario. I said that in December, I'll say it now. I haven't changed my stance on that whatsoever. I'd love to believe the rhetoric that this roster is solid, elite or whatever adjective you'd like to add, but the truth of the matter is it's not. Growing pains will come with rookie starters, but those growing pains are going to occur with a new coach and a new staff regardless. Either way, when I think about what this team lacks currently...QB - this one is obviousRB - not a huge need, but Arian Foster is in his sixth year and we all know the shelf life of a RB.WR - Bill O'Brien has said he doesn't see a slot WR on this roster. If you've seen his offenses dating back to his Georgia Tech days, you well know that his offense utilizes that slot WR more than most.OL - G and T needed. One could possibly be filled by one of the two rookies from last year, but I'm not buying Ben Jones at LG in this offense. Two solid players needed.DL - JJ Watt and the Pips right now - could use three players here for starting purposes and depth.LB - a mystery but a starter is needed at either/both inside and/or outsideSecondary - although Kendrick Lewis and Chris Clemons signed here, the team still needs a rangy safety that can tackle, one that allows DJ Swearinger to play near the LOS. Not to mention the fact that the team needs a competent nickel CB as well.The Texans do have 11 picks but a trade down scenario could allow them to procure additional picks in the 2nd round this year and more importantly the 1st round next year. The key is getting additional top 50 picks in as many years as possible. Then, hitting on one of those picks to be your QB of the future. Advanced draft metrics have long said that the more picks a team has, the better off it is to find Pro Bowl/HOF type players.I think this is a 2-3-4 round draft - there is depth at key positions in those rounds, so picking up additional players there would be optimum, in my opinion.That all said, if the Texans keep the pick, it should be Jadeveon Clowney for the reasons many have outlined above. Just keep in mind that if this discussion were taking place last year after Clowney's sophomore year, there would be no debate. None.More importantly, ask teams that faced Clowney. The sole purpose was to put two guys on him every play. Blake Bortles said as such in an interview with Jon Gruden. That was every team's MO. Teamed with JJ Watt, there's no telling the different looks Romeo Crennel can throw at an offense. It would make Watt a better player. It would help Whitney Mercilus. It would make life for the secondary that much better.Is he Superman? Nope. Doesn't need to be. Just play.I'll leave you with this story. I was at the Paul Bear Bryant Awards in January and I was talking with new Texans S&C coach Craig Fitzgerald. He was at South Carolina in the same role when Clowney was a freshman. Of course, we took the discussion in that direction and I asked him if he was worried about the work ethic thing, figuring he had a pretty good handle on it. He said "well, he's never had Bill O'Brien as his coach. That won't be an issue".Agreed.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyI tweeted this on Feb. 20:"Increasingly skeptical any QB is worth the #1 pick this year. I think the Texans draft Jadaveon Clowney, and I won't be mad."Misspelling of Clowney’s first name aside, I feel the same way today. The Texans should draft Jadeveon Clowney with the first pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, and I think they will unless they get an overwhelming offer to trade down.When you draft No. 1 overall, you want No. 1 talent. Clowney is a clear-cut, slam-dunk No. 1 talent. Johnny Manziel is not. Teddy Bridgewater is not. Blake Bortles is not. There are too many question marks and flaws with all of them, and only vague and mythical whispers about work ethic with Clowney.Clowney is described by just about everyone – has been since high school, too – as a once-in-a-generation prospect. He’s a freak of nature who has insane measurables and game tape to back them up. The guy ran a 4.5 40 at 6-5, 266 pounds. He had legit Heisman buzz as a sophomore defensive end.Picture Clowney at OLB next to J.J. Watt with his hand in the dirt, staring down an opposing quarterback at the line of scrimmage. It’s so scary, it’s almost unthinkable. You’re talking about two dominant, complete-package front-seven specimens – who both might be perennial Defensive Player of the Year contenders – lined up side-by-side in their prime for at least the next 6-7 seasons, assuming Watt stays in Houston after his rookie contract. That sh*t could be historic.Here’s the conventional wisdom I’ve heard over the last few months:1) You need a franchise QB to win in the NFL2) The Texans need a franchise QB3) Lots of number one picks at QB have turned out to be great4) There have been QBs taken later who turned out to be great, but none of them were drafted to be starters5) The Texans won’t have a better chance at finding a franchise QB again6) It doesn’t matter if they have a great defensive player because they just went 2-14 with J.J. Watt, and look where drafting Mario Williams in 2006 got them.I say to all of this: Hogwash. To wit:1) A smallish third-round draft pick just won the Super Bowl. Who won it last year? Oh, that’s right. Joe Flacco. And what about that Tom Brady guy? Or Drew Brees?2) Yes, that’s true. But that doesn’t mean that QB exists in this draft3) Also true. But that’s because they were elite players. Lots of #1 QB picks have been busts… because they weren’t elite. And lots of years, there weren’t QBs picked #1 overall. Probably because the QBs in that draft weren’t good enough to go #1 then, either4) Good point! But guess what? The Texans signed a guy named Ryan Fitzpatrick, a capable veteran QB with starting experience and a shred of upside still left, who likes to work with younger QBs. He can start for this season, maybe longer if things break just right, or at least long enough this season until a young guy takes over5) Sort of true. Hopefully they don’t have the No. 1 pick again anytime soon. But since the top three guys aren’t Andrew Luck locks to be franchise QBs, they might have just as good a chance at finding one in the second or third round. And there’s also a novel concept I like to call: Next Year.6) Oh, so if they had drafted Vince Young, they would have been better off? No, they wouldn’t have, because Vince Young was out of the league after a few years and is now third-string for the Cleveland Browns. Mario Williams was the best pick, and the Texans were a better team with him than they would have been with the other guys available that year.I love watching Johnny Football just as much as the next warm-blooded Houstonian sports fan, but he’s a total crapshoot with a ton of red flags. The Texans badly need a franchise quarterback, but you can’t turn a guy into a franchise quarterback simply by drafting him No. 1 overall. Texans are going to take Jadeveon Clowney -- a great prospect and clearly the best one in this draft -- if they stay in the top spot tomorrow. And it’s going to be a beautiful thing.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyI have a divided sense because of my optimism on Teddy Bridgewater, and his seeming fall down the draft board for workout and physical attribute reasons.I'm not sure how many people hold this opinion, but I think there are legitimate positives on all 3 of Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, and Blake Bortles. Manziel is a terrific athlete who always escapes the first (and 2nd, 3rd, etc.) rusher, improved from the pocket, played very well in big games, and has incredible touch on the football. He's one of the most polished prospects, in terms of handling the media, that I've ever seen. I am not worried one bit about Manziel off the field.Bortles has ideal size, but he's only produced at a high level for a single season. I wish we had another year under his belt to analyze. Bortles has a few plays where he shows he can become a high-level NFL QB. On the other hand, Chris Brown wrote a piece for Grantland (http://grantland.com/featur...) that illustrates a conundrum with Bortles. "Everybody" says he's the prototype, but Teddy Bridgewater actually plays QB the way people believe Bortles does. Blake excels on throwing on the run and playing in the shotgun. The adjustment to playing the NFL style will be a sizeable one.I will go on record as saying that I understand drafting Jadeveon Clowney at number 1, as long as there is a clear organizational plan to land a franchise QB. Many fans obsess about filling all the different holes on the roster. This is the beauty of having true impact players on your football team. If Clowney pans out, then you can have 3 impact players (Watt, Clowney, Cushing) that make the rest of the players on your defense better. There's a cascade effect that ripples throughout the entire D.The Seahawks' defense is the envy of the NFL right now, for obvious reasons. Would the Texans have a solid foundation to replicate that type of D if they had Watt, Clowney, and Cushing? Hopefully. We should also keep in mind that terrific front 7 tandems like Quinn/Long, Richardson/Wilkerson, and Fairley/Suh all played for teams that missed the playoffs in 2013.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyJohnny F'ing Football is the only choice in my opinion. Do you believe in Ryan Fitzpatrick? No. Do you believe in Case Keenum? Not really. Do you believe in T.J. Yates? LOL no. I understand the "OMG Watt and Clowney on the same D people" but in this league a QB gets you win's. Yes the Seahawks D was great but it was a complete D not just a great DL plus they had an OUTSTANDING QB in Russell Wilson. Get Johnny Football, don't let his Frito turn into a Dorito!!
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
Clowney's red flags go deeper than just an overall lack of production. He also didn't fare well in the one-on-one sack category, a key reason he didn't show up on the sack stat sheet in 20 of his 36 college games (http://insider.espn.go.com/...).
For Bridgewater, Ernie Accorsi's saying that there is no price that is too high to pay for a franchise QB comes to mind. Bridgewater passed all of the Parcells Rules (if he gets the bye for not being a senior, something Parcells himself signed off on - http://insider.espn.go.com/...) and the track record of top-flight QB prospects who achieve that goal is quite good.
Having noted all of this, the Texans should go for Bridgewater with the first pick but the tea leaves are reading as if he could be available in round two. If Houston thinks he will still be there on day two, they should draft Clowney unless they get a home run trade offer. If that happens, they should go ahead and draft Bridgewater with their earliest pick and ensure they get their franchise-caliber QB.
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
As of about a month ago I said that I'd take Teddy Bridgewater No. 1 overall (http://www.footballoutsider...)
I still believe that he's the best player in this draft, knobby knees or not.
That said, I think we all know that pick isn't going to happen now. He's not really in the conversation at No. 1. My main line of reasoning at this point is that the Texans need to walk out of this draft with Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel. I don't care how it happens, and I don't care what pick they use to get it done. You can't sell Andre Johnson the idea that he's going to waste another year of his career watching passes sail over his head via a lower-tier quarterback. That's a total non-starter to me.
The problem with waiting on quarterback is (a) that Johnson gets another year in the tank and (b) the Texans are likely to improve somewhat in 2014, even with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. They could triple their win total beating up on the AFC South and the fourth-place schedule they've drawn. So Houston gets back to the 2015 draft, and they face this exact same "is this guy good enough?" dilemma. There may be a better-regarded quarterback by traditionalists in 2015, but they won't be in any position to take him if they're picking 8th or 10th or 13th.
Thus, "playing it safe" in this draft becomes riskier for the long-term health of the franchise than actually taking the leap on one of those quarterbacks.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyThere are a few people that that I'd like to see the Texans draft this season:1. Sub-Zero and Scorpion from Mortal Kombat: We switch to a Tampa 2 coverage, put them at safety, and pi-yow! Instant contenders. (I'm aware we'd have to switch from 3-4 to a 4-3, but if that's your problem with this selection, then guess what: everybody hates you.) I mean, really, you don't even need to have corners anymore if you have Sub-Zero and Scorpion back there. "You want me to run a 20-yard in route, coach? You mean right at the guy that just yanked our other receiver's spine from his body? Nah, you know what, nah, I'm cool." Boom. Texans go 16-0 with zero points scored on them and also probably something like 15 kills. That's a little thing called a successful season.2. Matt Saracen from Friday Night Lights. I just miss him so much. I haven't been able to get a boner ever since he left my life.3. Dwight Howard: Because he sure as **** didn't earn his check with the Rockets. Let him work it off with the Texans.But if none of those guys are available, then I guess.4. Johnny Manziel: I get that Clowney is probably the smarter, safer pick. I really do. But, I mean, for real, there's probably not that great of a chance that the Texans are super good this year anyway. Clowney isn't the piece that forms them into champions. Neither is Manziel for that matter. But at least Manziel is interesting and makes for good plot pivots. The Texans go 6-10 next season. Total bore of a few months. But if the Texans go 6-10 and on one of those weekends Johnny Manziel is at the Galleria drunk ice skating with his shirt off, that's a win. Or if he's breakdancing in the parking lot of Pappadeaux. Or if him and Mattress Mack spend $20,000 in lap dances at Dreams. Or if he starts showing up in Slim Thug and Bun B's videos. OR IF HE PUTS OUT HIS OWN RAP ALBUM. Man, we need that. We need him here. I don't want a Super Bowl win. I want Johnny Manziel to get Deborah Duncan pregnant and then name the baby Fondren Manziel. He'd become a folk hero. There'd be a 30 For 30 on him in 20 years. That's what I want. That's what Houston wants. That's what Houston needs. Draft Manziel.
Added by: Stephanie StradleyIn our mock draft on ESPN.com, I traded out of the top spot to nine, getting two second-round picks, a third-round pick and the Bills' 2015 first-round pick. It was a representation of what I thought could happen in tonight's draft. And if the Texans get that kind of deal from someone, I bet they take it. I don't think they will, which means my scenario for what they should do is likely to happen.What I would have done is this -- stay at No. 1, take Jadeveon Clowney, trade with the Patriots back into the first round and grab Teddy Bridgewater.I know the Texans need a quarterback, but they need a few other things too. If you have the chance to add an elite pass rusher to a team that already has an elite pass rusher, you do it. The Texans ranked 29th in sacks last season. J.J. Watt can't do it all himself.
Added by: Stephanie Stradley
The Texans should draft Jadeveon Clowney. Wait, no, clearly the pick has to be Teddy Bridgewater. Oops, I meant the pick must be Johnny Manziel.
Hello, last four months.
With Texans owner Bob McNair noting that all the draft-eligible quarterbacks have warts, I'd be fairly surprised if the number one overall selection was one of them.
Now to what they should do. They should eliminate every player from contention other than Clowney and Manziel. Bridgewater, Bortles, Carr, Garoppolo, etc, all seem like nice players and they is most likely one quarterback in that group that will be a high-end NFL starter. But which one? Clearly nobody knows that. Thus, none of 'em should be considered at number one overall. Grab one of em at 33 or 65 or trade back up for one, but can't use the top pick on one of them.
I know the pick should be Clowney. I know that Clowney paired with J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing, etc and with Romeo Crennel molding his early years as an NFL ass-kicker, Clowney will make the defense better. The pass rush could be lethal, at minimum, it will now be a factor, and finally the average to below-average secondary will have a chance to not get burned over and over and over again.
But what I don't know is, will the team be good enough. Fact you cannot win in the playoffs on a semi-regular basis, without a top-flight quarterback. The Bengals are the best example, they might have one of the five most talented teams in the league, they've made the playoffs three years in a row. They've also lost their first game in the playoffs, three years in a row. Quarterback Andy Dalton is the reason.
All the talent in the world will not overcome average quarterback play. Not in this league anymore, since the playing field, through all the new rules, is heavily slanted to wards offenses. It doesn't make bad quarterbacks good, it makes good defenses bad.
The Texans will have a good defense with Clowney, but will they be able to shut teams down so effectively that they can win with a subpar signal caller? No.
Still everything I've noted is obvious, what's not obvious is if any of the available quarterbacks is the guy Bill O'Brien and the Texans can hitch their wagon to from day one and watch that player elevate himself into a top ten quarterback and along with his ascension, bring the team into that same stratosphere.
With the success of Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III (for one season), I only think Manziel is likely to follow in their footsteps.
Does it appear I'm stumped? Well, almost. I thought in 2006 that Vince Young would be a good NFL starter, a quarterback worthy of the top selection and worthy of putting your team in his hands. For a number of reasons, some self-inflicted (attitude, aptitude) and others out of his control (ownership and football operations at odds over the player), Young's career fizzled out quickly. But I still think the Titans were right for picking him at number three, it was the right player to choose after Mario Williams and Reggie Bush were already off the board.
If the Texans had the number two pick, this would be easy, take whichever player is still there, and almost assuredly that would be Manziel.
In this case, it's not that easy.
Find your quarterback later on Thursday or very early on Friday and hope you picked the right one.
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