Texans: Take Johnny ‘Football’ or Trade Down
HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – Have you stopped to think about the worst possible scenario should the Houston Texans decide not to pick who you think they should, insert name and position, in the upcoming NFL draft? There hasn’t been a resounding rally cry for one particular collegiate player over the airwaves for several reasons. Maybe closer to May 8th, it will get louder. However, to this point, the noise hasn’t been real loud.
First, there are at least 5 very compelling first-pick scenarios at the position of need which the Texans must consider. Secondly, it’s difficult to project the future of a player in this draft as easy as it was to project the future of a player like Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, back in 2012. That was a much easier decision for Indianapolis, although you can be sure they did their homework on Robert Griffin III.
Third, the Houston Texans fan base is informed, football-crazed, and passionate which typifies the State of Texas, right? However, this fan base is also rational enough to think with the head and not the heart – can’t fool ‘em. If it quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.
But with a minimum of five uncertain and risky scenarios, a new head coach, new coaching staff, General Manager Rick Smith needing to help get it right, uncertain futures of existing players, and an ownership and fanatical fan base starving for a winner, it would be wise for this duck, the Texans, not to come up lame especially owning the first pick in the draft and a finish of 2-14 in 2013.
MINIMUM FIVE POSSIBLE DRAFT SCENARIOS
We would be doing a disservice in publishing this article to say we haven’t heard the low-volume cries for the Texans to draft A&M quarterback Johnny “Football” Manziel with the first pick. In fact, two very credible draft experts, NFL Media Senior Analyst Gil Brandt and ESPN’s Mel Kiper, have the Texans selecting Manziel with the first pick. He’s a Heisman winner who has all the goods except size.
However, there have also been low-volume cries for Central Florida QB Blake Bortles, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, and Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater.
Opinions are being swayed a bit with the release of these mock drafts, which, to some degree, do have immense influence on the perception of team needs. It’s also fair to add that the outcome of holiday bowl games left imprints on the mind. That last video clip you saw of your guy is a lasting impression and could sway your opinion.
Coaches see the same video/picture. Except, they are professionals who get to replay those same pictures, different camera angles, close-ups, slow-mo’s, etc., hundreds of times. In addition, they generally have the benefit of knowing the exact play call and will dissect and grade A, B, C, D, or F. Coaches are also paid to know and see the little things that separate player A from player B.
But there’s also the good ole ‘eye-test’. Have to be careful with this one as one game does not make a career. However, weaknesses in a player can be exposed. The example here is Alabama QB A.J. McCarron. He is a winner. Prior to the loss to Auburn in the SEC Championship game and the bowl season, McCarron had only lost 2 games during his college career as Alabama Crimson Tide field general while winning two National Championships.
He seems to be a great kid, smart, talented, a leader, has good size, all of the ingredients needed to be a 10-15 year quarterback in the NFL. You can probably tell that the writer is a McCarron fan.
However, in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma, he unfortunately got exposed. The foot quickness, which helps quarterbacks sometimes elude the rush and make plays out of nothing when the pocket collapses, was lacking and caused him to throw two interceptions during critical moments. He also fumbled in the final minute during a possible game-tying drive, down 38-31, which led to the go-ahead score for Oklahoma and the final, 45-31. Still, McCarron went on to pass for 387 yards and two touchdowns.
But we also recognized that he didn’t get the help from an offensive line that’s generally seems impenetrable, yet that night, seemed to play uninspired as A.J. was sacked 7 times. Have to give credit to a BIG 12 Oklahoma team that seemed to have the number of Nick Saban and the SEC’s flagship, Alabama.
How much will that one game affect his draft stock? Unknown at this point, but what we do know is that McCarron, according to reports, has declined invites to the Senior Bowl. He will focus on the NFL Combine, Pro Day, and the balance of the pre-draft evaluation process.
WHAT ABOUT THE OTHERS
Another example to point out is the off-and-on love affair with Teddy Bridgewater. Prior to holiday bowl games, mock drafts, and pre-combine, Bridgewater was a ‘can’t-miss’ first pick. And, where is he projected to go now – 8th to Minnesota? The Vikings and new head Coach Mike Zimmer currently have the 8th pick in the draft.
Bridgewater is also a winner. Say what you will about the weak schedule played by Louisville in 2013. Take a look at the tape from the Russell Athletic Bowl. Bridgewater was magnificent completing 35-of-45 for 447 yards and 3 touchdowns during a 36-9 drubbing of the 9-4 Miami Hurricanes. If that doesn’t impress you, how about the performance versus number 3 Florida in the 2012-13 Sugar Bowl, Louisville 33, Florida 23! Bridgewater finished 20-of-32 for 266 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. He was also sacked 5 times.
Would you prefer the Texans draft Clowney? Following the 2013 Outback Bowl that saw South Carolina defeat Michigan 33-28, the stage was set for defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to possibly be that first pick following the hit heard around the nation.
Aggies’ right tackle Jake Matthews has been nothing but stellar during his time at A&M as he finished his playing career with 45 consecutive starts. He’s also projected to be the first offensive lineman taken in the draft. Just in case you don’t know, he is the son of Hall of Fame lineman and Houston Oiler, Bruce Matthews. The Texans need offensive line help. However, according to most experts, it goes against the grain to take a right tackle with the first pick in the draft. Just for your information, Matthews played right and left tackle at A&M. The Texans should think long and hard about passing on Matthews.
Finally, there’s Blake Bortles who was a late-comer to the party. However, you can’t ignore what he brings. He has the size at six-foot-four, 230 pounds, ability, a good arm, and he is a winner. The story goes he only had two offers coming out of high school and one was to play tight end. It looks like he made a good decision to join George O’Leary at UCF and stick with the quarterback position after finishing his career with 7598 yards and 56 touchdowns.
But, it was the 52-42 win over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl that confirmed what most were thinking and saying as Bortles passed for 301 yards and was responsible for 4 touchdowns in UCF’s BCS Bowl debut.
It comes down to the Texans making good decisions. They are desperate in that area and can’t miss. They need players, good players. While it might be safe to go after that ‘can’t miss guy’ with the first pick, it might be more wise to drop down a few positions in the draft and try to get two for one.
After all, the Texans do hold the number 1 overall pick. The City of Houston will be waiting in anticipation for that big announcement by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the night of the draft.
“With the first pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select ________________.” The response is anybody’s guess, sort of like the draft.