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All eyes will be on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in May when he steps to the podium to officially announce the Houston Texans are on the clock. Everybody expects the team to address the quarterback position with the No. 1 pick, but nobody knows for sure which prospect they’re most keen on.
The Texans won the AFC South in 2011 and 2012 and were considered true contenders in the AFC, but in 2013 they took a major step back, largely due to the lack of production from veteran Matt Schaub and rookie Case Keenum under center. The team has a terrific cast of characters — Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, and J.J. Watt, to name a few — but inconsistency on the offense and trouble holding onto leads on the defensive end cost the Texans too many wins in 2013.
It appears as if three quarterbacks are in contention to be the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. There’s Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, and Teddy Bridgewater, all of whom could be starting in Houston come Week 1.
Johnny Football has been the biggest name connected to the Texans, largely because he’s a former Heisman Trophy winner who played his college ball in Texas. Manziel’s 2013 campaign was actually better than his award-winning season the year prior, and perhaps nobody has more of a knack for making plays in the clutch.
Bridgewater is widely considered the top quarterback prospect in this year’s class, mainly because he’s the surest bet at the position. He didn’t have as impressive a 2013 season as some hoped, but he did show some flashes of greatness along the way.
Bortles hails from Central Florida, where he lifted the Golden Knights to a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl upset over Baylor. Bortles stands 6-foot-5 and has all the physical tools to be an NFL quarterback, and maybe more importantly he is the kind of player — bigger, drop-back passer — that fits Bill O’Briens’ offense. And it doesn’t hurt that UCF coach George O’Leary is a good friend of O’Brien’s.
But are we overlooking something?
The No. 1 overall prospect in the class is defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The 6-foot-6, 274-pound pass-rush aficionado will be the most coveted player this season, and while Houston is set with Watt manning one side of the defensive line, can we rule of the team putting together the best pass rush in the league by adding Clowney? It seems unlikely given the Texans’ need at quarterback, but anything can happen.
If they don’t nab Clowney with their first pick, the Texans do need another end to potentially replace free agent-to-be Antonio Smith. A lot of defensive ends are expected to come off the board in Round 1, but what about a player like North Carolina’s Kareem Martin or Arkansas’ Chris Smith. Martin is the latest in a long line of Tar Heels pass rushers to go pro (see Quinton Copes, Robert Quinn), and he was an All-ACC selection in 2013. Smith can play end or a standup linebacker and effectively rush the passer.
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