Now that Manzielmania seems to be simmering down around the city, the narrative for what the Houston Texans will do at number one overall this May has mostly come down to two players; Jadeveon Clowney and Teddy Bridgewater.
Nationally, UCF quarterback Blake Bortles is still getting a lot of run due to things that are supposedly being whispered around the league right now, but I'm personally filing that one under the same folks who said it was a lock that Buffalo would be taking Ryan Nassib last years because "connections." Could it happen? Of course. But I'm still in a believe it when I see it frame of mind on that one.
It's an odd thing to me that almost every scout around calls Bridgewater "hands down" the best quarterback in this draft and ready to step in and lead a team to winning football on day one. Yet, it's becoming almost as rare to find a mock draft that has the Texans selecting him than it is to find Action Comics 1. I'll agree that a mock draft is hardly gospel, but it is unusual that the top need for this team is a face of the franchise type quarterback, yet next to none of the folks compiling them think they'll take the best one available?
Then we have the most enigmatic player in this draft in Jadeveon Clowney. I say enigmatic because it seems near impossible to get a consensus opinion on the guy. The only thing most agree on is that he is the most talented player in this draft. However, the disagreements about his work ethic and his play on the field last season vary greatly.
Houston already has a dominant pass rusher and the question really becomes do they take the best player available or get that franchise quarterback?
You'll find plenty of debate about how a team should use a number one overall draft pick. Some say you take the best overall player, regardless of need. Then there are others in the camp that believe you'll never win big without a top shelf quarterback. Even though I'm a defense first guy, I'm in the latter of that group these days.
Perhaps it's the last decade plus of crap salad at quarterback that has me feeling this way, but I'm over this franchise keeping on the path of nickel and diming it on a quarterback. Some say that Bill O'Brien is a QB wizard and can make any guy out there "serviceable." Well that's great. I'd rather see what he can do with a potentially great quarterback. If I'm placing a bet, I'm putting those chips down that Teddy Bridgewater is going to be that guy.
Pull out all of the draft rounds of Russell Wilson and Tom Brady mentions you want, those are very clearly the exception and not the rule. Plus, I'm one of those who think Wilson, while decent, isn't quite as good as that Seattle defense makes him look. But that's a different topic all together.
As tempting as the idea of pairing J.J. Watt and Clowney together is, I feel like that's the concoction for a lot of 10-3 losses because we can't move the ball on offense. Also, if you're drafting Clowney and just planning to take your medicine this year and reassess your quarterback options in 2015, there goes another year of Andre Johnson's career, which is fast approaching its twilight. There goes another year of wasting Watt at a salary that is below his market value. Do I even have to go into how much money you'd be sinking into the front seven a few years down the road?
In the end, I'm in that group that believes Teddy Bridgewater is going to succeed greatly at the next level (unless he gets drafted by Cleveland, of course). I understand the concerns about his build and believe that once he gets on a strength and conditioning plan at the next level, he'll grow into his body. I don't think that's enough of a reason to pass on a guy that I believe has the potential to be the next Aaron Rodgers.
I'll end this by saying that if Clowney is the pick, you won't hear much complaining out of me. Like I said, I'm a defense first guy and getting upset about having the greatest pass rushing prospect since Bruce Smith would be like whining about having too much money. However, I am adamantly against Clowney and a quarterback in the 2nd or 3rd. If we do go the Clowney route, I support using this draft to build a stud defense. Don't waste a high pick on a project quarterback. You end up with an Andy Dalton situation on that plan more often that not.
I am in the 1% that believes if we take Clowney, Houston should just bring in a vet and let him and Case Keenum compete for the job in 2014. I know most are throwing up right now at that thought, but drafting a quarterback in the 2nd or 3rd round to be "the guy" in a not so deep quarterback draft is just another recipe for "good, but can't win a Super Bowl with him" era. If you're really playing for 2015, build that defense.
With every Ryan Mallett and Brock Osweiler rumor, I'm resigning myself to the fact that taking Teddy number one is more and more unlikely. If that does indeed come to fruition, any player other than Clowney at number one is just this franchise proving that it won't be satisfied until they're the Browns, in my opinion.
Teddy or Clowney. Don't overthink it, Texans.