The Houston Texans have done a terrific job of keeping their cards close, as we have no indication as to their draft strategy this year. Although conventional wisdom states that a team with a strong supporting cast, a huge need for a franchise QB (their biggest need), and the first overall pick should take a signal-caller at No. 1, the fact of the matter is that the Texans could be disillusioned with the top QBs in this year’s draft. While QB is obviously in play for the Texans at No. 1, most people have them either trading down or drafting an elite prospect on defense in Khalil Mack or Jadeveon Clowney.
I decided to posit this critical question to the staff here on NFL Spin Zone, and it’s a question with several layers to it. The premise of the question is “should” and not “will”, so it’s important to remember that these responses reflect the opinions of the staff as opposed to any prognostication. Because at this point, anyone’s “guess” is as good as anyone else’s with all the smokescreens flying around and the huge uncertainty regarding the Texans impending decision at No. 1.
If I’m Rick Smith, drafting for need would be a better strategy for my team than drafting the best overall player. The best overall player is Jadeveon Clowney without a doubt, but there’s really no need at defensive end. Although the 1-2 punch of J.J. Watt and Clowney would be lethal, quarterback was the main reason for the Texans’ struggles in 2013. This is what I think Houston should do with the first pick, not necessarily what I think the team will do. And I think the Texans should take Teddy Bridgewater.
There have been a lot of questions about Bridgewater’s frame, his arm talent, and even his work ethic since the Combine, but I still think he’s the best quarterback prospect in this draft class. He apparently had a subpar pro day, but I’m not making a big deal of every “knock” on him since the draft — he did everything well for three years at Louisville. Game tape means much more than a pro day in shorts and a T-shirt. Based on that game tape, Bridgewater is the best QB in the draft by far, as was believed by most experts in January. I don’t know if scouts know this. But Louisville has not played a game since January. But somehow, most people think that just based on Bridegwater’s pro day, he’ll no longer be a first round pick. I politely disagree. It’s also worth noting that Bridgewater threw without a glove at his pro day, and wears a glove on his throwing hand during games.
I don’t think that Houston will draft Bridgewater. I actually think the team will select Clowney, but they should take Bridgewater and that’s who I want them to take.
The Texans have a lot of options at number one, but trading down isn’t one of them. It appears the Texans are keen on Clowney, Manziel, and Mack, but I’m not sure they will be able to get any of them if they trade down (likely out of the top 5). Clowney is an insane talent and the Texans should have no problem creating a spot for him in their 3-4 defense. They have enough chips to even trade back into the first to get a quarterback if they feel the need, but Clowney is head and shoulders above the next best player in the draft and should be the pick here.
The idea of putting Jadeveon Clowney on the same line as J.J. Watt has to be too much for Houston to pass up here. Sure, they need a QB, but there will be good ones available at the top of the second round. And although Khalil Mack may fit as a perfectly 3-4 OLB, I just don’t see how the Texans pass up on Clowney, the most dominant pass rushing prospect in recent memory.