There isn't a lot of debate about which prospect is the most physically dominant in the 2014 draft class. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is a once-in-a-generation talent.
There is, however, a ton of debate about which prospect will go No. 1.
The Houston Texans, owners of the No. 1 selection after a phenomenally disastrous season, are in need of a quarterback.
This hasn't stopped rumors like the one below from Houston sports radio show host Lance Zierlein:
<;p>Looking more and more like Texans go with best player on their board (likely Clowney) and a QB later in the draft. Traits usually win out.— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) March 6, 2014
To explain why this rumor shouldn't be believed, we have to start with the Texans' quarterback situation.
Last season's original starter, Matt Schaub, regressed and proved without a doubt that he was not the answer.
Youngsters Case Keenum and T.J. Yates both saw time under center for the Texans last season. Neither player featured the kind of ability it would take for a franchise to feel comfortable with either player as the long-term answer at quarterback.
It's not like these quarterbacks were working with a bare cupboard, either. The Texans have talent on offense. Arian Foster remains one of the league's best and most versatile running backs, and Ben Tate was one of the league's best backup running backs last season.
Then there is a receiving corp that has benefited for years from the dominance of Andre Johnson and was boosted last year with the addition of rookie DeAndre Hopkins.
The offensive line is not as dominant as it has been, but the Texans still finished a not terrible 17th in sacks allowed.
Put a competent quarterback with that group, and this is a potentially dynamic offense.
This leaves the Texans desperate to identify their quarterback of the future.
Now, I'm not saying the rumor of Houston wanting Clowney is bogus due to Zierlein fabricating information. I believe it is the Texans fabricating this information.
This draft features three quarterbacks who appear to be a viable option as the first off the board. They are Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater.
All three have potential and question marks.
There have been reports, like the one in the below video from the Houston Chronicle's John McClain, that the Texans were leaning towards Bortles.
The Texans are planting rumors of wanting Clowney to counteract reports like the above to drive up the trade value of their selection.
There aren't going to be teams falling all over themselves to jump up to the No. 1 spot to draft a quarterback when there are three who appear so closely rated.
Clowney, on the other hand, is a talent so rare he has the potential for teams to create a bidding war for the opportunity to draft him. That is exactly why the Texans would float this rumor out there.
Every team in the NFL knows the Texans need a quarterback, which means Clowney is likely to be available at No. 2.
On top of this is the fact that Clowney is a curious fit in Houston.
The Texans play a 3-4. This is perfect for the size and strength of defensive end J.J. Watt.
It is not as perfect for Clowney.
To be clear, I think Clowney has the talent to make a positive impact anywhere along a defensive line in any system. That said, at 6'6" and with the speed of a running back, Clowney is best suited to be an end in a 4-3.
He will be more effective using his explosion to get to the edge than his strength to bull through blockers.
Former Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage highlighted this point to Fox Sports AM 620 radio and College Football 24/7. NFL.com's by Chase Goodbread caught and parlayed Savage's comments in print:
The Texans are going to be playing a 3-4 defense, so that means he's going to be a 3-4 defensive end or an outside backer. I don't particularly think he forecasts well as an outside backer up on his feet rushing the edge, because I do think there is some lateral tightness in his athletic ability. Although he blew the field away in the 40 and the vertical, when he ran the 3-cone it was a 7.27. ... So there is some concern there."
Clowney's 3-cone time ranked 12th among defensive linemen. Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy blew the field away with a 6.83 time, and Clowney would have needed a 7.15 to crack the top five.
The 4-3 defensive end, I think, is the right fit for him, where he can use that body length and his speed off the edge. Versus a 3-4 team, where there are constraints in that system. It's a little more of a disciplined style of play. It's a little different animal altogether.
With Clowney and Watt, the Texans would have two of the league's most dangerous defensive linemen, but they couldn't put them both in the best position to succeed.
This makes drafting Clowney ludicrous.
All of this, however, does make trading down a good option for the Texans.
Whether they trade down a few spots and still grab one of the top three quarterbacks or drop down even more and pick up a quarterback later in the draft or not at all, it is all preferable to drafting Clowney and then have him be miscast in their system.
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