With the National Football League draft just a month away, not selecting South Carolina defensive end Jadaveon Clowney with the first pick would be downright egregious. At 6-foot-5-inches and 266 pounds, Clowney is the best player available in this year’s crop of NFL candidates.
Blessed with tremendous size and speed (4.53 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in February), Clowney would give the Houston Texans the type of edge pass rusher that comes along only every so often. Paired with J.J. Watt, the Texans defense would instantly transform into one of the league’s best.
It originally appeared that Houston would opt for a quarterback with the first pick in the draft, but new head coach Bill O’Brien understands that it is defense that wins championships. Just ask Seattle. Even so, the Texans do have a glaring need at QB after having traded Matt Schaub to the Oakland Raiders on March 21. Houston receives an extra sixth-round pick this year in return.
There are several solid QB prospects available but none that is truly worthy of the No. 1 selection. It was long thought that former Texas A&M star and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel would be a perfect fit for the Texans. Then, there are Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater and Central Florida’s Blake Bortles. All three have been considered top five picks at some point this offseason.
However, due to some free agent maneuvering, it looks as if only one, and possibly, none of the three will be gone by the fifth pick in the draft. Oakland, which holds the fifth spot, just picked up Schaub and will probably address other needs of which there are several. St. Louis holds the second pick and, with the return of QB Sam Bradford from injury, looks like it will take either OT Greg Robinson of Auburn or OT Jake Matthews of Texas A&M.
Jacksonville owns the third pick and, while a QB would be nice, with veterans Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert at the top of the depth chart, the Jags will likely go for a playmaking WR like Clemson’s Sammy Watkins or a standout defender such as Buffalo LB Khalil Mack.
Of the top five teams, the one most likely to select a quarterback may be Cleveland in the fourth slot. The Brandon Weeden experiment seems to have not panned out and the Browns added veteran Jason Campbell to the roster. The Browns like Bridgewater but could go in a different direction and shore up their offensive line or draft a big play wide receiver like Watkins if he is available.
The 2014 NFL Draft features as strong a crop of candidates as there has been in the past few years. One thing is certain, though. The best player is Clowney and Houston most certainly will not pass him up.