Houston is a team that must make upgrades on both offense and defense. They enter the 2014 NFL Draft with the first overall selection, meaning they can select the best player this year’s crop has to offer. But, when considering their need for a franchise quarterback, should they take the athletic freak of nature linebacker (in 3-4 set) Jadaveon Clowney and pair him up with JJ Watt, or select either quarterback Blake Bortles or Johnny Maniel?
In most circles Clowney is the top pick in this draft due to his size, speed, and terrific agility. He plays very fluid and will certainly be a disruption for every opposing offense the Texans will play next season. The idea of lining Clowney up behind All-Pro defensive end JJ Watt is scary. Houston would have two dynamic pass rushers that will certainly be a challenge to contain when providing protection for the pass game. Another area of concern is the fact both are equally dominant in run support.
Clowney’s agility also will allow him to be a difference make in the short zone game. He is fluid, and his adjustments are crisp. At his height, they could line him up inside on passing downs and give opposing QBs a mountain to consider when throwing over the middle. He’s deceptively fast in recovery if beaten, so he will hold his own against most running backs and tight ends.
Now, let’s give the other side of the coin a look, and discuss what Blake Bortles benefits could bring, should the Texans select him with the first overall pick. Bortles is the most NFL ready QB in the draft, but that’s not to say he’s the best quarterback for the Houston Texans at number one. Bortles knows how to move around in the pocket and has good lateral agility, so he knows how to avoid a blitz if needed. He makes quick reads and has a quick release, a talent that would work in the Texans’ new offense under Bill O’Brien.
Bortles can lace any pass 40 yards and under with solid accuracy, but his long balls beyond forty yards tend to sail on him, but in the NFL, the Hail Mary pass isn’t used often enough on game days for this to be of any major concern. His short to intermediate game is excellent, and he would give the Texans an upgrade over Keenum next season. One other area of concern with Bortles, is the fact that while playing at UCF, he did a lot of throws off of single looks, so being sure to check off receivers will be something he will have to learn, but he is coachable. He has a durable frame and can absorb hits from NFL defenders.
Johnny Manziel is another name that gathers interest. Manziel staying in Texans would be huge, and adding him as their potential franchise quarterback could have a huge payoff. The most immediate concern surrounding Manziel is his durability. He doesn’t have a big frame, and while he may be fast and agile enough to scramble the field at the college level, the NFL is a different beast. Manziel has to prove he can absorb hits from NFL defenders, because he’s going to get his share of pops at the next level.
Manziel has 4.6 speed, which won’t be enough to sail him 80 yards, coast to coast on game days in the NFL, when going up against bigger and faster defenders. He’s quick to jump the gun and run, but if drafted by the Texans, he will have to show patience in the pocket and not crack under pressure. A tall order for a kid that hasn’t played a single down in the NFL, and a kid his size getting trapped in the pocket by a swarming NFL defense won’t last long.
Manziel is competitive and a very aggressive leader on the field. The fact remains, if he can add size prior to the season, he could easily take the NFL by storm in 2014. He has a cannon arm, and deadly accuracy, two talents that won’t slip by O’Brien’s consideration. Manziel also has terrific footwork, and fantastic field vision. He has the highest NFL IQ at the position in this draft. Thus, while durability is a big concern, the idea of him buffing up and playing to the fullest of his abilities, is why he remains a possibility for the top pick in the NFL Draft.
Three excellent prospects, but only one selection can be made. If you are the Texans GM which player would you select and why? Naturally I’m defensive biased, but any of these players would help give the Texans an immediate turnaround.
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