The Houston Texans have the first overall pick in the NFL Draft for the third time in franchise history. The previous two times saw the Texans pick a quarterback (David Carr, 2002) and defensive end (Mario Williams, 2006).
This year, the Texans find themselves in an awkward position—do they take a quarterback with the first pick or do they trade down to acquire more picks and take an impact player at defensive end.
According to a story by ESPN’s Tania Gangull, Texans’ owner Bob McNair like South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney—“He’s one of these players who’s a once in every 10 years kind of physical specimen that comes along,” McNair said. “Mario Williams was that way. I think Clowney is actually a better athlete than Mario.”
Houston no doubt has a lot of holes to fill on its roster, and two big holes are at the two positions mentioned above. So, the biggest question is, do the Texans draft a franchise quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater with the first pick or trade down and select Clowney to be opposite J.J. Watt at defensive end?
Most pundits will agree that the Texans would be stupid to not take a quarterback, especially considering the poor play they got at the position last year. Houston quarterbacks ranked 27th last year in passer rating (74.0) and threw 22 interceptions, compared to 19 touchdowns.
It’s obvious Matt Schaub is not the answer in Houston, but would the Texans take a chance on finding their franchise quarterback in the second or third round? After all, it worked out for the Seattle Seahawks when they found Russell Wilson in the third round.
If they do that, then guys like Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr will all be gone. Left will be the likes of Brett Smith, Zach Mettenberger, A.J. McCarron and Tajh Boyd. Could one of those four be a franchise quarterback? Not likely. But then again, Wilson wasn’t supposed to be a franchise quarterback, either.
While McNair may like Clowney, the problem is you can’t win without a good quarterback in the NFL. And the biggest name on the free-agent market is Michael Vick. So, finding a QB on the market doesn’t look good for the Texans.
Of course, the Texans could choose to sign Vick or Josh McCown to a one-year deal and draft a guy like UCLA’s Brett Hundley in the first round next year.
The best course of action is for the Texans to trade out of the first pick—but not go down too far. Teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 3) and Cleveland Browns (No. 4) are both prime candidates, and both are looking for quarterbacks. The Oakland Raiders (No. 5) could also be considered as options here.
The Texans could make a trade with one of the teams, and get a nice return of picks, then use the first-round pick from one of the other teams to select one of the other top available quarterbacks.
Bridgewater looks like he’s going to go first, but Bortles, Manziel and Carr won’t be too far behind. If Houston would be happy with any one of the four, then trading down a few spots is a no-brainer.
The extra picks the Texans get could go towards filling holes at the tackle, defensive end and safety positions.
Let’s also not forget free agency will come into play and a lot of good players on the market. The Carolina Panthers’ Greg Hardy will command a big salary for a defensive end, but could fill the need there for Houston. So could Michael Johnson. The Texans could also go after left tackle Branden Albert on the market.
There are so many options for the Texans to fill their needs, but quarterback is the biggest need that must be addressed.
While Clowney will be a great pickup for any team, the Texans simply can’t afford to let the most important position on the field go by the wayside.
Houston must use its first-round pick on a franchise quarterback. The only question is, will they pick first or trade down a few spots to acquire more picks, but still draft a quarterback?
Only time will tell.