Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What Should the Houston Texans Do?

The NFL off-season can be just as exciting as the regular season, particularly if you're a fan of a bad team.  The off-season represents hope.  Some teams need to find a general manager and/or head coach to start the rebuilding process.  Others are looking for the right offensive or defensive coordinator to fix one side of the ball.  Other teams look to a key free agent to fill a glaring hole.  The NFL draft is the time of the off-season where every team is participating against each other to execute the right draft strategy, to fill the remaining holes and build your team into a perpetual winner.

The only logical place to begin discussions regarding the NFL draft is with the #1 pick.  After all, the worst team in the NFL is on the clock as soon as the off-season begins.  In 2014, that "honor" belongs to the Houston Texans.  The first topic of discussion around the worst teams in the league and simultaneously at the top of the draft, is the quarterback position.  Matt Schaub hit a major wall in 2013 and the balance of his career is likely to be in the backup role.  Does that mean the Texans automatically draft a quarterback with the top pick in the draft?  Let's examine the options:

Teddy Bridgewater is often described as "the most NFL ready" which is hardly a ringing endorsement of his skills.  do you select somebody anybody based on the fact that they are the most ready for a specific position at this point in time?  the #1 overall pick of the draft should be a difference maker for at least a few years, and a solid contributor even longer than that,

Johnny Manziel is described as a vertically challenged play-maker who may bring some off field baggage with him when drafted.  Johnny Football, as he is known, is a rock-star in the state of Texas but his work ethic has been questioned since he was dismissed from the Manning football camp last summer.  If the Texans make him the #1 pick and give him the money that goes along with that distinction, it will be a combustive relationship where they wind up trying to manage a celebrity instead of coaching their quarterback

This brings us to Blake Bortles who put up good numbers last year and has the prototypical size for an NFL QB.  The Texans are said to be leaning toward Bortles but the question that has to be asked is "Should they be?"  It's a tough task to a kid in his early 20's to come into the locker room of a losing NFL team and lead men many years older than him in turning around a football team.  It only works in a small percentage of the scenarios and usually requires the QB to exceptionally gifted.  When they do have that level of talent they are often described as a "franchise QB."  Nobody has described Bridgewater, Manziel or Bortles as a franchise QB.

So what is the answer when the clock runs down to 8pm EST in New York on May 8th and the Houston Texans need to select a player to be the first overall pick?  My answer is that the Texans should select Jadaveon Clowney and pair him with J.J. Watt on the defensive line.  He's been the best player in college at any position since before anyone heard of Blake Bortles.  As teams play more and more nickel defense, the base 3-4 teams like the 49ers often play a 2-4-5 alignment.  With 2 down linemen, who would you rather have than Watt and Clowney?  The blitzes will be tough to pick up because you will want the blockers to pay extra attention to both of them.

Then it's time to be creative with the QB position.  It's been said that Bill O'Brien still has a very good relationship with Bill Belichick.  Trade the 3rd round pick, #65 overall in a deep draft, for Ryan Mallett who is entering the final year of his rookie contract.  Belichick drafted Mallet in the 3rd round of 2011.  Mallett will want to seek a starting job rather than continue to be a backup for the Patriots.  That means the Patriots can trade him now, let him walk away with nothing in return next year, or put the franchise tag on him next year which isn't really an option considering Tom Brady agreed to a below market deal when he was scheduled to be a free agent.  I would rather have the 25 year old Mallett who sat and learned behind Tom Brady for 3 years, than any rookie QB option in the draft this year.  you be the GM....what would you do?

You can follow me on twitter @bbrophy1

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