With both the Senior Bowl and Combine in the books, we’ve reached a perfect time for an updated mock draft. As usual, we’ll go pick by pick to make sure we discuss each pick thoroughly enough, and as usual, we’re assuming I’m the GM, so I’m not making picks based off who I actually think will go where, but rather who I’d take with the slot. And no, no trade scenarios because they’re infinite. So with the 1st pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Houston Texans select?
In my first mock I took South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, and I’m sticking with that pick in the second version.
Clowney had a very good showing at the Combine, checking in at 6-foot 5 2/8”, 266-pounds, running a 4.53-40, 37.5-inch vertical jump, 21-reps on bench, 83-inch wingspan, 124-inch broad jump and 7.27-second 3-cone drill. All very good numbers, but to be honest, I thought they’d be even better. Still, just basing it off measurables, Clowney has the goods for the top pick.
Is our greatest need DE? Of course not, quarterback is. But what do you do when there’s no QB worth taking with the top pick? Do you reach and take the best QB in the draft, just to fill a need? Or do you take the best player in the draft, and one of the best defensive prospects of the last decade?
There’s three QB’s in contention for top ranked at his position, but all three leave me with something to be desired, at least for a number one overall draft pick.
Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) would assuage the fan base and help sell tickets, true. And I think he’s got the skills to play QB at a high level in the NFL. But I don’t like his frame nor think he’ll be able to stay healthy for long stretches, especially when you consider his playing style.
Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) is a solid prospect, but doesn’t have tremendously high upside. He’s got a relatively high floor, but I think he’s close to maximizing his talent. He’s smart and athletic, but doesn’t have great arm strength and may be forced into a west coast scheme to find success.
Blake Bortles (UCF) has the highest upside of any QB aside from Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech), but like Thomas, is unbelievably raw. Even Bortle’s college coach has commented on how far he has to go until he’s a Pro Bowl caliber QB, which is what you expect from a number one draft pick. I just can’t justify taking on a long-term project at QB, not when I have a roster teeming with talent already and is only two years removed from winning the division.
So I’m going with Clowney, the best pass rushing prospect maybe since Julius Peppers, and will target a QB in round two.
Is he a perfect fit at 5-tech? Not necessarily, but he’s so athletically gifted, he can not only play there, but at a high level. Heck, I’m even going to give DC Romeo Crennel the green light to be as creative as possible with Clowney, experimenting with him at all front-7 positions. Play him wherever you want, because wherever he’s lined up, he’s got a good chance at getting to the QB. Even if he doesn’t, the offense will have to account for both he and Watt. Imagine what that does for the rest of your defense if four offensive players are locked onto two defensive linemen all game? Oh, and concerns over Clowney’s work ethic? That will be directly handled/enforced by Watt, on and off the field.
There’s just too many possibilities with Clowney to justify going with anyone else. Greg Robinson (OT, Auburn) is really the only other prospect I remotely considered here, but he’s still too raw in pass protection for my liking, and he’d probably play RT in our scheme. A RT number one overall? And a RT who couldn’t pass block Clowney, who I’d be passing up?
With the second pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the St. Louis Rams select?