The 2014 NFL Draft is now just days away, and the final pick-by-pick mock draft has begun. Different from my previous mock drafts, I won’t be projecting who I would take, but who I actually think will be selected with the pick. Again I won’t be including trade possibilities simply because they’re limitless and totally unpredictable. So with the first pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, who do the Houston Texans select?
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina.
No shock here. Clowney is a transcendent talent who defenses must account for. His size (6-foot 6, 266-pounds), speed (4.5 40-yard dash), explosion (37.5-inch vertical and 124-inch broad jump) and change of direction (4.4 20-yard shuttle) are all elite, and that’s before you even start watching his game film.
His game tape is truly impressive, and it’s painfully clear he’s in a class of his own in terms of physical gifts. He may be the most naturally gifted defensive player to come into the NFL since Lawrence Taylor in 1981.
His critics will immediately point to his sometimes lackadaisical effort during his junior season in Columbia, and they’re right, you can noticeably tell when he’s not going full speed. Still, if that’s the biggest negative you can come up with and weigh that against once-in-a-generation type skills, I’m sorry, but it’s worth the risk. I think more than anything Clowney wasn’t challenged enough at the collegiate level and grew bored voluntarily playing for free knowing his skill set was worth millions upon millions of dollars a year.
Now Clowney will be going against elite talent day in and day out. He’ll be getting paid a lot of money to play at an elite level and the expectations will be high. For the first time in his life, he won’t be the best player on defense when the season begins. For the first time in his life, if he’s not going balls out on every play, he’ll have someone even bigger and scarier than him in his face (All-Milky Way Galaxy DE J.J. Watt) letting him know about it. To put it plainly I’m just not too worried about Clowney’s work ethic, or what it was, at the next level.
What he’ll be able to do for the Texans defense will be impressive. No longer will teams be able to double up on Watt every play. Having two elite edge rushers who can also play the run is a luxury few teams have enjoyed in recent memory. Play him at OLB or DE depending on odd or even fronts. Put him at 3-tech or even nose in nickel and dime packages. Float him around, put him in different places, confuse the offense, force blocking schemes to audible. The possibilities are truly endless if you’re a creative mind, and DC Romeo Crennel is just that.
Some say take QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) first. The team does need a QB, and Manziel would help the franchise both under center and keep them financially in the black. He’s a good talent, but not a transcendent talent like Clowney.
Some say take OLB Khalil Mack (Buffalo). He’s a natural edge rusher, a supposed favorite of GM Rick Smith and as polished as they come. He’s an elite talent, but not a transcendent talent like Clowney.
Taking Clowney number one overall will be a good move for a team already bursting with talent. With Clowney in the fold, expect the team to answer their QB woes at the top of round two.