The Houston Texans need a quarterback, but will they take one with the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft? The football odds say it’s a toss-up.
So what were you doing in 2006? Let’s hope it was a good year for you, because football betting fans are busying themselves looking at the 2006 NFL Draft. It’s impossible to talk about this year’s draft without revisiting what happened eight years ago when the Houston Texans had the first overall pick – just like they will this May. And while the circumstances may have changed somewhat, the decision Houston made back then could help us predict who will go first in 2014.
Let’s start with the present day. The 2014 Texans have a laundry list of needs after finishing the 2013 campaign at 2-14 SU and 4-12 ATS. Most of the focus has been on the quarterback position. Matt Schaub (73.0 passer rating) had his worst season since becoming Houston’s starter in 2007, and almost certainly will be cut. Case Keenum (78.2 passer rating) looked like a potential successor in his first few starts last year, but tailed off and ended up winless in eight games. T.J. Yates (71.4 career passer rating) is the other option.
As always, there’s no shortage of top-end quarterback prospects available at the draft. At Ladbrokes, three of the top four favorites to go first overall are quarterbacks: Blake Bortles (13/8) from UCF, Teddy Bridgewater (7/4) from Louisville, and Johnny Manziel (5/1) from Texas A&M. But none of these three men is the top favorite. That honor goes to Jadeveon Clowney (6/4), the freakishly talented defensive end from South Carolina. So it’s the age-old question for the Texans this year: Do they draft for talent, or draft for need?
That’s where 2006 comes in. Houston had its choice of three blue-chip prospects: local hero Vince Young, the quarterback of the Texas Longhorns; Reggie Bush, the Heisman-winning tailback out of USC; and Mario Williams, the mammoth defensive end from North Carolina State. Somewhat surprisingly, the Texans chose Williams, and their fan base wasn’t terribly happy about it.
It turned out to be a pretty good choice. Williams made the Pro Bowl twice for the Texans and set the franchise record for sacks (53) and forced fumbles (11). Young also made the Pro Bowl twice; however, Young was a divisive player whose career flamed out in 2011. As for Bush, he was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2013, but has had an inconsistent career since joining the NFL. Williams, by the way, made his third Pro Bowl in 2013 as a member of the Buffalo Bills.
Drowney for Clowney
It’s always a risky proposition to take a “skill” player so high in the draft. Unless you have a shot at a can’t-miss prospect like Cam Newton (2011) or Andrew Luck (2012), it’s often more advisable to pick a lineman. These players, offensive or defensive, come out of college with just about all the tools they need to play at the NFL level. Quarterbacks need a lot more grooming, and might not succeed in your team’s particular system.
We’re already hearing some pessimism about this year’s crop of quarterbacks. Bridgewater, who was at one point the consensus No. 1 pick, seems to have some issues with being in the media spotlight. Manziel is much more camera-ready, but his accuracy isn’t all that sharp, and Bortles doesn’t exactly have a cannon for an arm.
Clowney, meanwhile, was the star of the NFL Combine, and it just so happens that the Texans need some help on the defensive line. Just like they did in 2006. It’s a different front office now in Houston, but come this May, expect the Texans to make the same decision – if they don’t trade down in the draft, that is.
NFL Pick: Take Jadeveon Clowney (6/4)