Join Date: Apr 2008
Re: Todd McShay on 2014 NFL Draft
Texans' options with the No. 1 pick
1. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville Cardinals
I had Houston selecting Bridgewater in my first mock draft earlier this month. My reasoning then is the same as it is now: Given the importance of quarterback play in the NFL and the Texansí need at the position, itís hard to see the Texans not talking themselves into taking the top quarterback prospect on their board.
The top QB prospect on our board right now is Bridgewater. Granted, he isnít on the elite level of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III; in fact, heís only the ninth-ranked prospect overall in our rankings. (Itís also worth noting that he hasnít yet said whether heíll leave school early for the draft.) There are concerns about his long-term durability in the NFL because of his lean frame, and his ceiling isnít as high as Luckís, RG IIIís or even the second-ranked QB on our board, UCFís Blake Bortles (more on Bortles later).
But there is a lot to like about Bridgewaterís game. He has proved he can beat opponents from inside the pocket with his accuracy, quick release and ability to read defenses. He is also very mentally and physically tough, and he has good mobility. (Check out his TD run in the Cardinalsí bowl win over Miami on Saturday night.) So although he isnít a perfect prospect, Iíve got him as the No. 1 QB in this draft class right now, and if the Texans feel the same on May 8, I think that theyíll make him the top overall pick.
2. Blake Bortles, QB, UCF Knights
Bortles is one of the fastest-rising prospects in the entire draft. He didnít debut in our Top 32 rankings until Dec. 4, and we had him going No. 3 in our mock draft just two weeks later. But even though many fans are unfamiliar with him, it would not surprise me if he eventually unseated Bridgewater as the top QB prospect in this class -- if he opts to leave school early, that is.
Bortles has a higher ceiling than Bridgewater, with a strong, accurate arm, good size and the ability to move around in the pocket and deliver throws even when defenders are hanging all over him. (He resembles Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco in that respect.) He has a chance to improve his stock in Wednesday nightís Fiesta Bowl, when the Knights play Baylor.
Placing Bortles as the No. 2 option here is all about the value of the QB position and Houstonís need for one. Sure, getting an elite offensive tackle or elite pass-rusher (two of the Texansí other options with the top pick) would be nice, but you donít need either of those to win a Super Bowl -- and whenís the last time a team won it all with a quarterback who wouldnít be classified in the leagueís top 10 at the position? Exactly. Itís not surprising to hear ESPN colleague Adam Schefter's report Sunday morning that Texans GM Rick Smith is spending the week scouting several college quarterbacks in their bowl games, Bridgewater and Bortles included.
3. Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M Aggies
If the Texans do decide to pass on a QB with the No. 1 overall pick, and they arenít able to find a trading partner to move back in the draft, I think Matthews is the next-likeliest pick. Houstonís second-biggest need is offensive tackle, and Matthews has the potential to be a very good one at the NFL level. Matthews is versatile, having played both right tackle and left tackle at a very high level for Texas A&M, which could be an asset for the Texans as they attempt to rebuild their offensive line. Additionally, Matthews has the pedigree (heís the son of former Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans OT Bruce Matthews), durability and work ethic you look for at the position.
4. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina Gamecocks/Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA Bruins
I'm listing these two guys together because (A) I don't consider it all that likely that Houston would take a defensive player here and (B) we donít yet know what type of defensive scheme the Texans are going to install under their new coaching staff -- will they keep the current 3-4 alignment or switch to a 4-3?
Clowney is best suited to play a 4-3 D-end, while Barr is best suited to play a 3-4 OLB, but both players have the versatility to be used in different ways if the Texans fall in love with one or the other. Clowney is the most talented individual prospect in this entire draft class, but Barr has great potential as well (having played on the defensive side of the ball for only two seasons at UCLA), and he was very disruptive and productive during the 2013 season (more so than Clowney, whose effort was up-and-down toward the end of the season).
I think itís far likelier that the Texans go for a QB or offensive tackle with the No. 1 pick, but either Clowney or Barr would provide good value. (Clowney is currently No. 1 on our board, and Barr is No. 2.) In particular, the idea of pairing Clowney with J.J. Watt on the same defense could be awfully tempting.