Okay, Houston, go for your gun, and let’s see what you are made of. Here’s my take from three points of view: (1) what I think they will do, (2) what I think is best for the team, and (3) as an unabashed fan, what I would like to see them do. Let’s take them in reverse order:
A Fan Through and Through
Not even a tough call. Grab Johnny Football and don’t look back. He, not Clowney, truly offers a once in a generation kind of opportunity with all the potential to be a Drew Bees plus. I love quarterbacks who can keep drives alive with their feet. Even Brady and Manning sometimes do that, to say nothing of Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. Everyone forgets that the lowly Texans thoroughly dominated the Seahawks at Reliant Stadium in the first half last season, until Wilson literally took off running after the intermission. Manziel will frustrate, I am sure. He will invent new ways to throw picks, but with him out there I would never feel we are completely out of it. I see some “oops” type losses but also many, many more exciting games with chances to win. Some downside is for sure, but a huge upside could be within reach. Where have the Texans gotten so far by being ho-hum conservative?
Best for the Team
Bill O’Brien is a rookie coach but this is hardly his first gig. He knows that despite all the unrealistic expectations last year this team is not close to being a real contender. There are just too many holes. If he had to play a game tomorrow, his lineup might make him wish he was back at Penn State. The owner, Bob McNair, also understands this predicament. As long there is steady progress and winning football, O’Brien will get at least three and maybe as many as five years. The best pick for a near term solution has to be Blake Bortles. Just look at him. He is in the Tom Brady and even Penn State mold. He has all the tools, and should show steady progress. His college coach is a close O’Brien friend and mentor. I just don’t see O’Brien going with the gimmicky Manziel or slightly built, maybe not quite ready for primetime Bridgewater. They should try to trade down if they can but not without being assured that they can get Bortles. Otherwise, bite the bullet and grab him at number one. Forget this “he’s not a fist pick in the draft” quality player crap.
The Fearless Prediction
Owing in part to the apparent lack of a clear cut choice among the three prominent quarterbacks and also to the feeling that none is a truly worthy of first pick in the draft, they will attempt to extract additional value out of their position by trading down, although I don’t see them going lower than about number 10. It does take two to tango. Cleveland would be a good trading partner since it has two first round picks. Houston and Cleveland could switch between 1 and 4, and the Texans at least pick up Cleveland’s pick at number 3 of the second round. Cleveland still picks at number 26 of the first round. Cleveland gobbles up Manziel and St Louis at number 2 takes Clowney. Jacksonville then might take Bortles and, if they do, Houston is thrilled to take linebacker Khalil Mack. They would be tempted to take Bridgewater there, but I think they will wait for a quarterback (maybe Garoppollo, Mettenberger, or even Derek Carr) at the top of the second round. St Louis might also pass on Clowney for OT Greg Robinson, which would make Clowney very tempting for Jacksonville at number three. The same approach would work if they switch with Oakland at 5 or Atlanta at 6 but not much later. Both Bortles and Mack should be gone before 10. The Texans end up with three of the first 35 or so picks. Bottom line, I think Khalil Mack will be wearing a Texan uniform in the fall. Bill O’Brien knows he has a few years at least. He will not be roped into grabbing a quarterback just because they are picking so high.
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