by Mario "Game" Granata
With the NFL Draft taking place later then it has in previous years, it gives many teams the time needed to address certain needs in free agency. However many of the teams are acting like it’s the final table of the World Series of Poker with the stories that leak, the rumors that surface, and the ‘card game’ that many of these teams play to throw other organizations off their scent. The Houston Texans are on the clock, but will they put all their chips in on the Jadaveon Clowney hand?
A lot of speculation has been made on where the Houston Texans will go when the 2014 NFL Draft kicks off on May 8th in New York, but what hasn’t been mentioned is that the Texans might not even take a player with the first pick. Taking a look at the coaching tree that Bill O’Brien has descended from, one can see that he spent a half of a decade patrolling the sidelines with the New England Patriots, and more importantly was involved with the draft process with the Patriots organization.
The New England Patriots are not shy about trading out of the first round, if they can acquire more picks, in order to get value for players, not paying top dollar, if those players will fit into a certain system. O’Brien has seen this, and the Texans team that he has inherited wasn’t as bad as the 2-14 record would indicate. They have some valuable pieces already in place on this team, and with the right mix of players should be vying for the AFC South title in 2014 with O’Brien at the helm. Clowney or Manziel is the question, but here are a few reasons why Houston won’t hold onto the #1 overall pick.
They’ve Been Down This Road Before. In 2006, the Texans held the #1 overall pick, and decided to go with Mario Williams, when many people said that they needed a quarterback as well. With names like Matt Leinart, Vince Young, and Jay Cutler being the top quarterback prospects of that draft, the Texans selected Williams and went 6-10, and had a defense ranked 25th in the league. Their defense is solid, and although the addition of Clowney would be a boost, he is not an immediate need.
The Patriot Way. With the addition, especially to the coaching staff, of former New England Patriots, they have a history of trading back in the draft, to fill multiple needs. With other teams clamoring for the #1 overall pick, they Texans can receive multiple picks in a very deep draft to fill needs that they have, both on the back end of the defense and at the quarterback position. If you are the Texans and you are thinking long term, you are going to want to stay away from Manziel. His body type isn’t one that will hold up in the NFL, and once teams figure him out, he doesn’t have the foundation to rely on his experience. They can pick up AJ McCarron or Aaron Murray in the later rounds and still have a very serviceable quarterback.
The Last Two Super Bowls. When taking a look at the Baltimore Ravens of 2012 and the Seattle Seahawks of 2013, they were able to capture the Lombardi Trophy by playing solid defense and having a top tier rushing attack. The Ravens Defense, and Ray Rice served to carry Joe Flacco, and the Seattle Defense and Marshawn Lynch were good enough that Russell Wilson didn’t have to make a lot of plays. Not taking anything away from Flacco and Wilson, but when you have a punishing defense, and a running game, that makes the transition for a new quarterback a lot easier. The Texans defense is very talented and a healthy Arian Foster is a viable threat, especially in a weak AFC South.
Thinking short term, yes, Clowney would be a sexy pick to put next to JJ Watt, but if the Texans want to make it to the next level and stay there for a while, taking a page out of the Patriots draft process would serve to make them a team to beat in the upcoming years. The Patriots traded back many times in the past 15 years, and when they started their run with a young Tom Brady, they had a good running game, and a defense that would help him out until he got the hang of it, which he did. O’Brien, Romeo Crennel, George Godsey and Mike Vrabel they have a coaching staff that knows what it takes to be champions…you have to draft like them.