Do the Houston Texans use their #1 pick on Clowney or do they draft one of the top talent QBs like Bridgewater, Bortles or Johnny Football? I will make the argument that they do neither. But first we need some background and history before making a logical decision.
The Houston Texans coming off a dismal season in 2013. We saw a team that was projected to being playoff bound and having a shot at football glory in January. That perception was bolstered by them starting the first two weeks with two wins under their belt against San Diego and Tennessee. Then, the unthinkable happened, they lost against the former Super Bowl Champs, the Baltimore Ravens. OK, no problem with losing to the Champs so people brushed that one off especially being a road game. Problem at this point was schedule, a beast of one was about to bite hard. They now faced Seattle, San Fran, St. Louis, Kansas City, Indy and Arizona in the next six games. Guess what, they lose every game. So now after being so highly spoken about, they are staring at a 2-7 record going into week 11 since they had their bye week in week 8.
2013 Houston Texans Record/ QB pass yards
- San Diego W 31-28 Schaub (346)
- vs Tennessee W 30-24 OT Schaub (298)
- @ Baltimore L 30-9 Schaub (194)
- vs Seattle L 23-20 OT Schaub (355)
- @ San Francisco L 34-3 Schaub (173)
- vs St. Louis L 38-13 Schaub (186)
- @ Kansas City L 17-16 Keenum (271)
- vs Indianapolis L 27-24 Keenum (350)
- @ Arizona L 27-24 Keenum (201)
- vs Oakland L 28-23 Keenum (170)
- vs Jacksonville L 13-6 Keenum (169)
- vs New England L 34-31 Keenum (272)
- @ Jacksonville L 27-20 Schaub (198)
- @ Indianapolis L 25-3 Keenum (168)
- vs Denver L 37-13 Schaub (176)
- @ Tennessee L 16-10 Schaub (229)
Now, let’s not forget that Kubiak had enough of Schaub against the 49ers in week 5 when in the 4th quarter he succumbed to the calling for the backup Keenum to take over after Matt’s 3rd INT of the game. Next game, it goes from bad to really bad, when the Texans lose both Arian Foster and Brian Cushing for the year against the Chiefs because of season ending injury. So, the real disaster is just starting as the manageable part of their season, is unwrapping when they face the Raiders, Jacksonville and then the Patriots all home games. Then they have the Jaguars again this time on the road. So people are starting to think they have a chance turning around their season if they win the home stand games and enter Florida with momentum. The unthinkable happens. They lose to the Raiders 28-23, then lose to the Jags 13-6 and then after leading the Patriots by a 10 point halftime lead, they allow Tommy “Wonderful” Brady to master a 4th quarter comeback to have Gostkowski kick a 53 yarder to tie it 31-31 and then a 54 yarder to win it 34-31 with just three minutes left. The Patriots stop their three game road skid and the Texans continue their slide into the abyss. So now after week 13, the Texans have a 2-10 record with 10 straight losses headed to play the Jags for a revenge match up where the first meeting was a woeful 13-6 loss where the Texans didn’t even cross the goal line for a TD. History bares out what happens. Surprise, They lose and then lose the final three to Andrew Luck and the Colts, Peyton and the Broncos roll over them in their final home game and the Tennessee Titans beat them in the final game in a defensive duel beating them 16-10.
Ok, so forensically, we are all up to speed and can now move forward and put this ugly season where it belongs, in the trash. Texans hire a new coach and fire Kubiak and Bum Phillips. Guess there are silver linings in bad situations sometimes. This is a breath of fresh air for the organization with the hiring of Penn state Head Coach and Bill Belichick disciple Bill O’Brien. The Texans, also because of strength of schedule and their terrible league leading loss record, get gifted the #1 pick in arguably one of the best projected draft years since 1983. Loaded with top tier QB talent/depth and the infamous Jadeveon Clowney as the projected #1 pick. So now the Texans are at a crossroads. Do they draft a QB with their #1 pick, OR stay with Schaub/ Keenum and draft the suspect Clowney and his questionable work ethic? Do they draft the undersized, scrambling Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Football or take the tall pocket passer Teddy Bridgewater or do they draft Blake Bortles who is more a development talent than an instant starter. Or do they ignore The Beast and the QBs and draft an OT like Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews? Those are the million dollar questions, probably not adjusted for inflation but we move on.
So, What would you do knowing all the details of the 2013 season and the past seasons performances of Matt Schaub? Is he done or was it just a set of circumstances that led to the 2013 disaster. Can his tendency to throw the INT be corrected? Was this past season just one of those fluke things that can happen to any ballplayer? Was the snowball rolling so fast that it was impossible to correct the result? All million dollar questions and that’s why the GMs of the league get the big bucks.
If I owned the Texans, I would NOT draft a QB with my first round pick!!! I would advise my coaches that sticking with Schaub for one more year is the best long term solution for franchise health. Huge cap hit cutting him so might as well ride out the storm like The Jets did last year. A good example of how a coaching change sometimes fixes a QB issue can be easily found in San Diego and Arizona. Mike McCoy, in one year, turned around a floundering Phil Rivers and veteran, Carson Palmer found new life in Arizona under Bruce Arians. Sometimes a new playbook and new eyes from a new Head coach is all is required to correct a few mistakes and turn around a QB. The Skills are still there, but something changed to send the player into a tail dive. It’s the Head coach and the QB coach’s jobs to identify that and turn it around. No better choice than former New England Patriots QB coach and offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien. With that being said, now who do the Texans draft? Still the million dollar question.
Let’s explore drafting The Beast, Jadeveon Clowney. This has to be answered with certain scenarios which are only known by the Texans. And that is the health of Brian Cushing. If Cushing is projected to be healthy following his season ending injury, then maybe the Texans could forgo drafting Clowney and focus their thoughts on dropping down in the draft and selling the pick. Or maybe the Texans create one of the fiercest defensive tandems in JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. That is a scary thought having a healthy Cushing with those two monsters. Would keep many a team’s offensive coordinator and QB up at night with that nightmare waiting for them on Sunday. Ok, so let’s say, the Texans decide they want to stay pat on improving their defense and have thus far eliminated any thought of drafting Clowney. He is now officially off the Texans draft board as their #1 pick. So, now, do they draft a QB or sign a free agent? Let’s explore the possibilities there.
Top 3 QBs slated for the 2013 draft are, not in order, cause that’s a debate unto itself, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles. Considering that Bill O’Brien was Tom Brady’s QB coach when hired by the Pats, a pocket passer is most likely the comfort zone of O’Briens and for that reason alone, we kick Johnny Football off the draft board. Blake Bortles although he is a superb athlete, the scouts all say he is a questionable instant starter in the NFL. So, that alone kicks Bortles out of the running for the #1 pick. That leaves Teddy Bridgewater. Having operated out of a conventional NFL pocket passer system throughout college and his size and skill set make him the only viable choice to be an instant starter from game 1 and a definite alternative if the powers to be decide that Schaub is indeed done. If they decide that QB is their most important fill and they decide that they will not sell the pick or venture out into free agent land and sign a QB. Then Teddy Bridgewater is the #1 pick. Not much talent in the free agent QB pool, except old men like Mike Vick and Josh McCown so I say they have discarded that possibly already.
But, The Texans in my opinion don’t need a QB this year. They have one that can be coached to be a very viable starter. The Texans can either draft Clowney and have an instant play maker that will make them a scary defense. Or they could draft a QB with the intentions of him sitting year one getting adjusted and up to speed on reading defenses and starting year two. That’s a great scenario but in the NFL “I want to Super Bowl now” mindset. Hard for me to see. They could do as teams have done lately and put a premium on OTs and draft Greg Robinson or a Jake Matthews and those would be safe bets but not very fan friendly or popular and probably not viewed as true #1 picks this year. So I don’t think they do that.
Selling the #1 pick. Goal: Get a couple of key later round picks in a draft that in my opinion might be the best draft in NFL history in terms of talent and depth and fill multiple positions needed cheaply. If I was the GM, I would sell the pick, drop down in round #1.
Texans Needs/Draft Picks
Possible buyers of the #1 pick are:
- San Fran/WR,DL,CB/30,56,61,77,94,125,158,189,218,219,220,222
Most likely scenario is the Bears or Jets moving up. Raiders and Falcons could move up if they feel their pick will be off the board, but that is unlikely cause they could easily switch to a plan B scenarios. So much top rated talent, gonna take a genius to miss on one of these guys. Unlikely that any top 10 draft team will move up. I expect the move to take place in the mid first round or later.
Chicago could definitely make a move on the #1 pick if they feel that Clowney could give them that pass rush they so need facing Packer’s Rodgers and Lion’s Stafford twice a year so they must not be overlooked. They also have the 14th pick and the 37th pick which could very well buy the #1 pick. It’s extremely possible that the Texans could then draft either Mike Evans, Marquis Lee, Brandin Cooks, or Odell Beckham and get an instant playmaking receiver and then use their own pick #33 for a QB like Jimmy Garoppolo or A.J. McCarron and then use pick #37 for Morgan Moses of Virginia at OT or even Jace Amaro TE, and run with a two TE set like the Pats did with Hernandez and Gronk. Lots of scenarios but I do see the Bears calling them and pitching a deal. Clowney would be a beast for Chicago and much needed change to again make the Bears a force on defense.
The other team that I think will call is The Jets. Either to draft Clowney or re-draft a QB since the Mark Sanchez era is over and he can be released with little dead money and the Jets have a huge salary cap cushion. Geno Smith was such a rollercoaster and an INT machine that a second young gun QB might be the answer for them. Cause Matt Sims is NOT the best backup situation for them to rely on if Geno gets injured which is extremely likely considering his scrambling ability and the Jets wanting more of that in their offense. Which makes Johnny Football such a desirable player for the Jets. Would free them from being chained paying for a premium left OT to guard a QB in the pocket since Manziel style of football is to move the pocket like Russell Wilson. Would also be a major public relations feather in the cap of the Jets and get fans to buy those overpriced PSLs at Metlife stadium. Even though DE is not the most needed issue for the Jets, they did have a real problem last year getting a pass rush going. They have a great run stopping DL but no QB pressure killed them. They have such a strong need for a pass rusher and Clowney would make them virtually unstoppable defensively and they can afford to give up some picks since they have nine going in. Either draft pick would be a popular pick among the fans and the media and would also bring the much needed credibility back to the franchise. Besides, we all know how much Rex Ryan loves the spotlight and drafting defensive guys. So, an equitable trade according to Jimmy Johnson draft calculator would be the #1 pick for Jets 18,69,80. With this scenario the Jets could then enter the bidding for free agent receivers like Eric Decker or Emmanuel Sanders.
San Fran is the long shot to move up but I only include them cause Harbaugh is an outside the box thinker and he is so close to the Super Bowl that if he feels he is one player away and his #30 pick won’t get him that player, you may see a multiple trade of draft picks here among multiple teams with the 49ers being the catalyst team. They can give up equitably the 30,56,61 and 125 picks and that would give Houston a huge edge in filling multiple needs and to me would be the best use of the #1 pick. I could see Harbaugh trading for the #1 pick and then trading that down to draft Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans, the perfect guys to compliment Michael Crabtree at WR, thus recouping some later round picks that he sold to the Texans.
So, in conclusion, if I ran the Texans, I would either draft Clowney if I was ok with the projected performance of Matt Schaub and wanted to become a defensive oriented franchise. I would sell the pick if wasn’t convinced that Clowney would perform and make an instant impact from game 1 and was a future HOFer. Lots of options for the Texans but QB shouldn’t be their focus. Love to hear some feedback.