The Houston Texans had a lot of options as they worked their way up to the 2014 NFL Draft.
The team could select instant Texas legend Johnny Manziel to take the place of the departed Matt Schaub and work with QB guru Bill O’Brien to take the offense into the stratosphere. They decided it was too risky and didn’t need an attendance boost, having ranked in the top 10 in the NFL last year despite winning 2 games. Houston could trade down, possibly acquiring St. Louis’ 2nd and 13th picks for the Rams to move up.
As it turns out there was either no willing trade partner or the Texans demanded too much.
In the end they did what was probably the smartest move in taking the best athlete in the draft, 6’6” 275 pound Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina.
The drafting of Clowney at #1 was no surprise. The defensive lineman’s stock dropped a little throughout his final college season but for the most part he ran wire-to-wire as the likely top pick in the draft, starting with the disintegration of Michigan RB Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl and culminating with the first handshake of the night to Roger Goodell on Thursday, May 8th.
Clowney will get a chance to form a pretty stalwart duo of bookends as he lines up on the other side of Texans DE J.J. Watt, the 2012 defensive player of the year. Watt has been named to the Pro Bowl the last two seasons and welcomes the #1 pick to a defense that also features Whitney Mercilus, Brian Cushing and Clowney’s college teammate D.J Swearinger. The Texans ranked a disappointing 22nd in the league last season but the arrival of a physical freak like Clowney and getting Cushing back at full-strength aims to change that.
Houston runs a 3-4 defense under new coordinator Romeo Crennel and Clowney will specialize as an outside rusher. He’ll be technically listed as a linebacker ala Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs but will have one job this season – wreak havoc on Andrew Luck, Jake Locker, and the rest of the AFC South and the NFL.
Crennel knows NFL defenses and will have Clowney and Watt lining up in a number of different positions to keep opposing offenses on their heels.
With offenses having to focus on Watt, Mercilus, and a mix and match rotation of attackers it’s not out of the realm for Clowney to shine this year. Plus it was reported that he played much of his last season at South Carolina with a sports hernia, meaning a clean bill of health could also improve production.
The soft spoken Clowney hasn’t made a sack list like fellow rookie Khalil Mack, the Texans LB said he simply wants to earn the respect of his teammates, and maybe bring down Luck for a sack. He’ll see Luck twice as well as RGIII, Eli Manning, Tony Romo, and fellow rookies Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles if they see the field.
One things for sure Clowney will see the field – and likely the opposing teams backfield…often.