Everyone with some association with the Houston Texans has an opinion on who they should select with the No. 1 overall pick Thursday night in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Mayor of Houston Annise Parker said she thinks the Texans will take vaunted South Carolina pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, according to Yahoo! Sports, but said she also “likes the quarterback from Texas A&M”, meaning Johnny Manziel.
Former Houston interim head coach Wade Phillips told owner Bob McNair during his interview for the permanent position that he would take Manziel because the Heisman-winner’s energy on the field reminds him of former Buffalo quarterback Doug Flutie, according to USA Today.
And back in February Texans leading receiver Andre Johnson told KTRK-TV in Houston that if it was his decision to make, he would trade the top overall selection. In January McNair even hinted that the team was considering trading down, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter squashed that speculation Thursday afternoon via Twitter.
Houston is now locked in on its player and is not expecting a trade, per sources. Texans happy to sit at 1 and take player it wants.
â€” Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 8, 2014
Keeping all that in mind, including Texans general manager Rick Smith declaring last week he knows who he wants to pick, how Houston intends to use one of the most coveted No. 1 picks in recent memory remains an overall mystery.
Ultimately the Texans will have to make the traditional choice between team needs and best talent/player available. There’s been some consensus that Clowney and Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack are two can’t miss prospects, and pairing either with J.J. Watt could be the makings of an incredible defensive front for seasons to come.
However the most glaring need for the Texans is quarterback. After trading the inconsistent Matt Schaub and Case Keenum and T.J. Yates performing amicably but not possessing that star quality needed in a quarterback, the Texans might be best served by taking Manziel, Central Florida’s Blake Bortles, or Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater.
Utilizing his speed and elusiveness and playmaking abilities, Manziel ripped through the SEC and guided the Aggies to national title contention while capturing the 2012 Heisman with an incredible victory over Alabama.
His size, 6'0 and 210 pounds, and off-field antics were a concern for many teams regarding Manziel, but clearly the talent is there for a stellar NFL career. Manziel also made every throw from under center during his mega-Pro Day, and wiped away concerns that he can’t run an offense from under center after taking most of his snaps from the shotgun at College Station.
Concerns around Bridgewater have nothing to do with off-field issues, but he did fail to impress during his Pro day and at the NFL Combine. NFL Network analysts Kurt Warner and Mike Mayock specifically questioned Bridgewater’s throwing style while calling his Pro Day “average at best.”
Unfortunately, the three-year Cardinals starter began his final college season as the top rated quarterback prospect, and as a result Bridgewater’s been ripped apart probably more than any other player other than Manziel.
Houston should still look at Bridgwater’s overall stats at Louisville, which included a 71 percent completion rate and 31 touchdowns to four interceptions in his senior season. He’s also bigger than Manziel and is quite mobile outside the pocket.
Perhaps tipping his hat, new Texans head coach Bill O’Brien gave Bortles high praise after his Pro Day in March.
"I was very impressed," O'Brien said. "He made every throw I wanted to see, and he showed good footwork."
Bortles had an excellent Pro Day, wasn’t tied to any recurring scandals off the field and he has prototypical size for an NFL quarterback. Essentially he can counter each of Manziel and Bridgewater’s drawbacks.
As a 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior he led the Knights to an incredible 52-42 victory over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, going 20-for-31 for 301 passing yards and three touchdowns to two picks. Bortles also picked 93 rushing yards and another touchdown. Central Florida wound up with a 12-1 record and a final No. 10 national ranking.
For now, it seems Bortles or Manziel will be the pick if Houston goes for at quarterback, or Clowney or Mack if it opts for most talented.