2014 NFL Draft: More Questions Than Answers For Texans' First Overall Pick

Do you know towards whom the Texans are leaning? Neither does Jennifer Garner. - Jeff Gross

Still confused on who the Houston Texans will take with the number one pick of the 2014 NFL Draft? So are we. Greg Peshek of Rotoworld.com hand charted every throw made by the top quarterback prospects of the NFL draft. Let's break down his findings. Plus we take a look at a foil for Jadeveon Clowney.

The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine is over.  We're one day closer to the NFL Draft. Despite all the leaps, reps, jukes and catches, the public court of opinion is as split as ever. Whomever you wanted the Texans to select with the first overall pick before the Combine started likely hasn't changed. Even Marc Vandermeer is perplexed.

Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles showcased their personalities at the Combine, but they did little to distinguish themselves as passers. We'll never know if a certain interview might have given Rick Smith a "Eureka!" moment of clarity.

Quarterback quagmire

So with free agency set to begin March 11th, all we can do is take one more look at their numbers. Luckily, Greg Peshek of Rotoworld did just that...almost two months ago. He compared the 2013 passing accuracy of the Big Three (and Derek Carr) in a variety of situations. For me, the most telling and useful numbers to consider are accuracy against pressure and the blitz, as shown below:

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It's pretty clear that Carr is a step below the other three, and the pre-draft hype machine has worked him out of first overall discussion, anyway. Bortles and Manziel are solid, but Bridgewater seems to thrive when the defense sends a blitz.

As Texans fans, we should all have nightmares of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady coolly shredding Wade Phillips' blitzes with impunity. Imagining our Texans with their very own blitz-breaker makes me giddy. On the other hand, Bridgewater's deep ball concerns are certainly worth mentioning.

According to Peshek's charting, Bridgewater's completed 20-yard passes at around 50%, while Bortles and Manziel performed at a 55% and 56% clip, respectively.

- It's pretty clear that Bridgewater cleans up in every zone except the deep ball. He's excellent throwing the short ball where he's about 6-7% above average for the two zones. Some have criticized Bridgewater's deep ball, and while not bad - his completion percentage of about 51% is about average.

- For all the criticism Manziel gets, he’s extremely good at hitting his targets downfield. His ‘NFL type’ throws in the 11-20 yard range is the highest in the top 8 QBs in this class at 70.5% and he’s slightly better than Bortles at hitting the 20+ yard throws.

- Before we start getting into the debates about Manziel scrambling around the heaving it up for Mike Evans…his accuracy was similar when throwing solely from the pocket, hitting 67% of his 11-20 yard passes and 59% of his 20+ yard passes

If you're still recovering from Post Traumatic Schaub Syndrome, you might be leery of Teddy's less than stellar deep ball, yet, all things considered, Bridgewater's overall accuracy is most certainly a plus.

And as if to support Manziel's reputation as "the playmaker," his accuracy on third down and in the red zone beat out his other two top competitors. Though I'm leaning against him, I can get behind the idea of Manziel developing into that Brett Favre style of gunslinger with rarely a game going by that isn't directly decided by his arm-- for good or bad.

SecondRoundStats.com has Peshek's full charting results here for your perusal. Highly recommended.

Clouds Over Clowney

To add another layer of hair-graying frustration, Jadeveon Clowney did nothing to stop the questions surrounding his work ethic and drive. Mike Mayock in particular was especially vocal about it and even declared that he'd take Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack over Clowney with the first overall pick. So let's take a look at Mack and Clowney.

2014 Combine Numbers
40 YD Bench Vertical Broad 3 Cone
Clowney 4.53 sec 21 reps 37.5 in 128 in 7.27 sec
Mack 4.65 23 40.0 124 in 7.08

They play different positions, but both would be making quarterbacks miserable in the backfield. Mack gives up two inches and 20 pounds to Clowney, but has none of the motivation and maturity issues pinned to him.


Former NFL player Stephen White of SB Nation gave an extensive breakdown of Mack's abilities. Watching his tape, you immediately notice an impressive bull rush with quick, active hands. If the Texans' brass decided he was worthy of that first pick, he'd look mighty fine opposite Whitney Mercilus at OLB with Brooks Reed sliding inside next to Brian Cushing.

Conclusion: ???

Uhh... I realize I probably did nothing to add any clarity to what the Texans might be thinking.  The truth is we're going to have to grit our teeth and bear it for another month. My heart and confirmation bias is telling me Bridgewater, but the seemingly superior upside on the defensive side of the ball has me wavering. Stay tuned. All will be revealed!

As always, eager to hear your thoughts before we start ramping up for free agency. Happy Wednesday.

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