NFL Draft: Texans Expected To Keep First Overall Pick

NFL Draft:  Texans Expected To Keep First Overall Pick

The NFL Draft is now just a few hours away and pro football insiders are reporting that the Houston Texans won’t be trading away their #1 overall pick. There had been some speculation that they might ‘trade down’ hoping to get a quarterback and a top level defensive player in the process. As recently as last week Texans GM Rick Smith hemmed and hawed when asked about his team’s plans for the first overall pick saying that they had ‘made up their mind’ about who they would select with the #1 pick but adding a highly Nixonian disclaimer that they were still weighing their options in regards to a trade.

Assuming that this report is correct–and that an ‘offer too good to refuse’ doesn’t manifest itself when the team is ‘on the clock’–it’s a virtual certainty that Houston will select University of South Carolina defensive monster Jadeveon Clowney with the first overall pick. Clowney didn’t have an earth shattering season last year but you can make a compelling case that he was already in ‘lookahead mode’ to his NFL career. Many observers have suggested that Clowney had ‘NFL level skills’ from the first time he set foot on a college field. Some nebulous concern about Clowney’s ‘work ethic’ notwithstanding he’s the best player on the board and if he dedicates himself will be an All Pro level player for years to come. Simply put, he’s a beast–6’6″ 266 lbs, a 38″ vertical leap and ridiculously fast. Houston has a variety of personnel issues to address but they’d be stupid not to accept the dominant sack machine that fate has dropped into their lap.

The second pick in the draft belongs to St. Louis and they’re almost certain to select Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson. It’s not a ‘marquee position’ but elite linemen are always at a premium and the 6’5″, 340 pound Robinson is the prototype for the type of physically intimidating presence that you want at the position. Jacksonville will have the #3 overall pick and they have no shortage of personnel needs. Some have suggested that they’ll go with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel–they certainly need a quarterback and particularly one who could generate some excitement around the moribund franchise. The smart play, however, would be to go with one of the ‘sure things’ at other positions. If they want to focus on their defense they’ll go with University of Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack or they could lock up Clemson’s Sammy Watkins, who could be the NFL’s next superstar ‘big play’ wide receiver.

Cleveland has the #4 pick and they’ve already said that Brian Hoyer is their starting quarterback which is bad news for Manziel. The Browns will likely take the player mentioned above that Jacksonville doesn’t–either Mack or Watkins. Watkins could pay the most immediate returns and give the Browns an offensive playmaker that they desperately need.

So where will Johnny Manziel be picked? There is a huge diversity of opinion ranging from Manziel going #3 to Jacksonville to him possibly slipping out of the first round entirely. Teams with a need at quarterback that could possibly take a shot on Manziel are Tampa Bay at #7 though they could be tempted to go local with Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles–along with Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and arguably San Diego State QB Derek Carr–are considered by some analysts to be better NFL quarterback prospects than Manziel. Dallas might have some interest if Manziel is available at #16–he is an in-state product–but owner Jerry Jones has made it clear that he’s not really looking for a quarterback and that they’d be more inclined to work a trade than draft Manziel. The reality of the situation is that Manziel is by no means a ‘can’t miss’ NFL prospect and if he’s not taken early in the draft he might have a long wait before his number is called.