Number 1 overall selection Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans
Thoughts on the Houston Texans’ Draft picks
The Texans arguably had the best draft in franchise history back in 2006 when they last had the first pick of every round. Foundational pieces such as Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Eric Winston, and Owen Daniels were picked, all spent at least 6 years with the Texans. This time around it looks like the Texans have a draft that can rival the 2006 draft, and already have several key foundation position players on the roster, which will make for an easier turnaround.
Texans’ pass rush gets a huge boost
The Houston Texans selected the best overall player, and the player with the least amount of risk to not pan out. Ultimately Jadeveon Clowney has the highest chance of making the most impact right away at a position of need as an outside linebacker. After watching some of his games from this past season on draft breakdown, I saw that a lot of the talk about his effort was largely overblown.
Sure his coach Steve Spurrier might have also talked down about his work habits and the media definitely ran with that story, but when Clowney is on the field, he is getting after the quarterback. I figure that members of the media tried to create a story just so that there can be a discussion about multiple options rather just talking about Clowney being the sure pick. Clowney is crazy athletic for his size and consistently was able to beat the opposition off the line.
It is not an exaggeration saying that he was constantly double teamed, and on occasion was tripled teamed. When not doubled teamed, the opposition option had players chip Clowney off the snap. Because of all the attention paid to Clowney, he was only able to get 3 sacks in the 2013 season, but was undoubtedly still a disruptive force. He was just not always able to get the pay off sack.
The most important factor about a pass rusher should be how often he affects the play and pressures the quarterback, which Clowney proved he did a lot of. Clowney also plays the run well, and is excellent at closing in on the play with his speed. Because of the attention Clowney garners, he usually flushes out the play for other teammates to make.
It is very exciting to envision what the Texans defense is going to look like on Sundays with all the animals in the front seven. We got a bit of sneak peak the first 5 games of 2011 when it was Mario Williams, J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing, Demeco Ryans, Connor Barwin, Antonio Smith, and Shaun Cody on the same line. J.J. Watt at that point as a rookie was not the player is he now, but Mario Williams got off to the best start in his career playing outside linebacker before suffering a season ending injury in the 5th game of that year.
With Jadeveon Clowney and the rest of the additions in the draft, the Texans could possibly have the fiercest pass rush in the NFL. A great pass rush lessens the time that defensive backs need to cover wide receivers, and should equate to a lot more turnovers in 2014. The Texans might not have a top level quarterback at the helm this year or next year, but could have an elite defense.
Rick Smith sticks to board, adds some nastiness and toughness to offensive line
With all the needs on the Texans roster, the selection of an offensive guard with the second round pick probably came as a surprise to most Texans fans that were keeping tabs on the draft. But the pick shows that Rick Smith, Texans were sticking to their draft board and felt that Su’a-filo was too good to not be taken.
Xavier Su’a-filo says he tries to model his game after New England’s Logan Mankins and you can see on the film that he holds true to that. Before I read this about Su’a-filo, it immediately jumped out that he wants to put whoever he is blocking on the ground. He plays through the whistle a lot like Mankins, and even likes getting in those extra shoves at the end of plays. He played just about every position on the offensive line for UCLA, which is great just in case the Texans ever get in a pinch.
Su’a-filo was rated as the best offensive guard in the draft, and will most likely win the starting spot at left guard for the Texans. The added toughness and nastiness will be a welcomed addition to the team. There was chatter that the Patiots could have been targeting Su’a-filo with their first round pick. Interestingly Su’a-filo’s offensive line coach at UCLA Adrian Klemm was drafted by the Patriots in 2000 and spent 5 years with the Patriots.
Texans add a big Tight End that can block and catch
C.J. Fiedorowicz was yet another prospect that in some way had ties to the New England Patriots. Fiedorowicz at Iowa played under head coach Kirk Ferentz, who was offensive line coach under Bill Belichick with the Cleveland Browns in the early 1990s. The Texans again possibly grabbed a target of the New England Patriots, and again a player that has said he models his game after a Patriot, Rob Gronkowski.
The Texans selecting a tight end with their 3rd pick was indeed a surprise with already having re-signed Garrett Graham to a deal, and having a second year player that showed a lot of promise in Ryan Griffin. But it is clear that Bill O’Brien intends on running multiple Tight End sets, and plans on being versatile in them.
Fiedorowicz was said to be somewhat under utilized as a receiving threat, but can be dominant as a run blocker in addition to his pass catching ability. It was surprising that the Texans went with a Tight End with the third pick, but if he can come anywhere close to being the caliber of player that Rob Gronkowski is then sign me up.
The Texans find their Nose Tackle
The Texans’ nose tackle situation had began to get worrisome as the Texans hadn’t drafted any of the top prospects with their first three picks. But the Texans were able to trade back up into the third round get a Louis Nix, who was projected to go somewhere in the first two rounds. So the Texans most likely now have the starting nose tackle that they needed.
Nix is going to bolster the already stacked front seven, and he is going to be expected to take up multiple blockers to allow the linebackers to make plays. One of the knocks on Nix is that his lack of conditioning and stamina caused him to be a non factor at the end of some games. It will be on the coaches to stay on Nix and on top of his conditioning.
Texans take a flier Tom Savage
Every pick had potential of being the new project quarterback up until the Texans finally selected Savage in the fourth round. I found it a bit shocking that it turned out to be Tom Savage, I began to think it was going to be Zach Mettenberger, but I was hoping it to be Aaron Murray. I had heard a radio interview a few weeks back from a person who covered the Pittsburgh football team and he was not very complementary of Savage, so I wasn’t high on him from the start.
Then there was his college career that involved transferring twice, and not playing football for long periods of time. Also his stats from this past year don’t really jump out at you, so nothing other than his prototypical quarterback traits make you want him on your team.
But Bill O’Brien felt that Savage has matured after everything that he has been through, and obviously feels that he can possibly mold him into an NFL quarterback. Although I began to question the plan at QB, I really like what the Texans did in the draft, and because of that I will keep my trust O’Brien and the direction he feels is best for the team.
I find it curious though that the Texans and Bill O’Brien did not feel good enough about any of the other quarterbacks in the draft. The Texans basically had their pick of the litter, but chose to not pull the trigger on any of them. The Texans almost have every starting position of need filled with a good player, but don’t have a franchise QB. So it will be interesting to see what the plan is at quarterback. Do they expect O’Brien to develop Savage into a top 12 NFL quarterback? Do they plan on trading for somebody else’s quarterback, or address the quarterback position high in next years draft?
At this point Ryan Fitzpatrick is the likeliest Quarterback to be the starter in the season opener, unless Yates or Keenum can manage to win the position battle.
Depth at Defensive End
Jeoffrey Pagan will add depth for the Texans and possibly compete for a starting spot at Defensive end. Pagan is a bigger DE than the Texans have had in the past, which is something that the Texans need for Romeo Crennel’s style of 3-4 defense. Pagan doesn’t do any one thing exceptional well but because of his size and strength can take up blockers, probably the most important thing he would need to do in Crennel’s defense.
Pagan only started one year at Alabama, forgoing his senior season so there could be a lot more upside to his game with the coaching he will receive with the Texans’ staff.
Running back depth
The Texans needed some help at running back with Gary Kubiak seemingly running Arian Foster these past few years as well as some of the nagging injuries that Foster has recently. Andre Brown who was signed as a free agent a few months ago himself has had injury problems.
I like the Alfred Blue draft pick because of the upside factor, Blue did not get a lot of carries at LSU because of an ACL tear he suffered in 2012 and all the running back talent LSU had. Otherwise it is said that Alred Blue would start at a lot of schools with his combination of size, speed and good running back traits. Alfred Blue is similar to Arian Foster except looks to take on physical contact. He should had some good depth to the Texans.
Texans add a hammer and versatile fullback
In the 6th round the Texans selected another versatile player which O’Brien greatly values. Prosch is thought to have been one of the best blocking full backs in college football and this guy certainly looks the part. Funny enough one of the weaknesses on his draft profile says that he may be “overly muscled”.
Prosch has good speed for a full back and has really good pass catching hands .
Andre Hal and Lonnie Ballentine
Depth at cornerback and Safety
The Texans added some depth at the defensive back position with CB Andre Hal and Safety Lonnie Ballentine. Draft picks in the later rounds especially in the 6th and 7th rounds can have a tough time making the team let alone getting on the field. But they will get coached up during training camp and we will see what these guys are made out of.
Andre Hal played at Vanderbilt, an SEC school and has a shot of earning the one of the back up roles at corner. Lonnie Ballentine offers size at 6’3″ and speed with a sub 4.4 40 yard dash, and played 4 years of college football at Memphis.