At this point, it’s looking very likely the Houston Texans will have the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Sitting at a forgettable 2-11, the Texans will be heavy underdogs in their remaining three games against the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans. So the real question is, if the Texans do have the first pick, who do they select?
Well, we may be jumping the gun here. Why? We don’t even know if they’ll keep that first pick (again, assuming they lose out and ‘win’ the right for the first pick). The Texans could very well trade that top pick. It’s probably not a likely scenario, particularly because of how affordable the contracts are for top draft picks thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), but it could happen.
I think if it were going to happen it would be a trade with another team who also has a very early selection like the Atlanta Falcons. It’s possible for a team who might have a pick in the 20s to trade with Houston and snag South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, but it isn’t very likely. The Falcons could want the top pick to ensure they get Clowney, who’s not only the best player in the draft but someone who fills a position of need along the defensive line. One of the worst kept secrets in the league is the Falcons’ affinity for Clowney.
If the Texans do make a move out of the top spot, it’d be hard to criticize. After all, their biggest need isn’t DE, it’s QB, and this draft class is loaded with talented signal callers. Trade down, still fill your biggest position of need and get a couple extra draft picks along the way? Not a bad day for GM Rick Smith (assuming he’s still there after the season).
But if the Texans do decide to keep the pick they’ll be in a tough situation. Like we previously stated, QB is clear and away the biggest need of the Texans. This team is playoff-caliber at nearly every other positional unit except for the most important one. So do they take Clowney, the most talented defensive prospect since Lawrence Taylor, and then take a QB at the top of round two or do they take a QB with the first pick and never look back?
If they do elect to go with a QB with the first pick, it looks like there are three main candidates and one dark horse. Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) is the favorite, as he’s been the consensus top ranked QB on the big board since last spring. UCLA‘s Brett Hundley is only a redshirt sophomore but has terrific athleticism and size. Texas A&M‘s Johnny Manziel will be the crowd favorite, as he’s a Texan through and through and offers tremendous excitability with his playing style. Then the dark horse, Derek Carr from Fresno State, who’s seen his stock absolutely skyrocket this past year and looks like he could legitimately go in the top 10 or even top 5.
If I were in charge of the Texans, I’d take Clowney at the top and look for someone like Zach Mettenberger (LSU) or A.J. McCarron (Alabama) at the top of round two. I know the ‘Golden Rule’ of the NFL Draft is to never pass on a franchise QB when you don’t have one, but the two main anomalies of this particular class (Clowney’s once-in-a-generation talent and the lack of a guaranteed franchise QB like Luck) would force my hand. Just imagine Clowney rushing opposite of J.J. Watt. Opposing offenses would either have to devote seven blockers full time, strictly run out of the shotgun, or only run 3-step drops, meaning an offense’s playbook would be severely limited.
It will be interesting to see what the Texans do decide to do with the top pick if they lose out as expected.