NEW YORK – The Houston Texans ended months of hype and speculation by turning down trade offers to snag Jadeveon Clowney, the massive, athletic pass rusher from South Carolina, with the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft here Thursday night.
Clowney will team with former NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt on the line and should form one of the most dangerous pass rushes in the league. Even before the Texans picked him first, Clowney was salivating at the prospect and already issuing warnings to quarterbacks, in particular Andrew Luck of AFC South division rival Indianapolis.
Luck's "got to be just ready," Clowney said on Wednesday. "He's got to have his head on a swivel. I'm coming. And I know J.J. is coming. Everybody will be after the quarterback."
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound native of Rock Hill, S.C., is an unusual blend of size and speed (he clocked a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash). The former Rivals.com No. 1 recruit in the country, he was a two-time All-American with the Gamecocks where he had 27 career sacks and 47 tackles for loss despite often seeing double and triple teams.
Many in the NFL believed he would've been the No. 1 pick last year after his sophomore season if he wasn't prohibited from entering the draft by league rules.
The Texans kept the selection close to the vest throughout the extended predraft process, fielding trade offers into draft day Thursday. In the end, Houston and new head coach Bill O'Brien doubled down on the defensive front where the Clowney-Watt combo becomes a nightmare for offenses.
"I think I'll help J.J. Watt a lot," Clowney said. "I've seen him get a lot of double teams. They won't be able to do it all to him now with me on them. I feel I can get after the pass as well as he can."
The Texans finished 2-14 last season but still boast plenty of talent. They reached the playoffs the two previous seasons.
While Houston still needs quarterback help, there wasn't a definitive franchise guy the team believed was worth the No. 1 selection. In the meantime, Clowney believes the Texans are built to contend anyway.
"I think defense wins championships," Clowney said. "You saw it this year in the Super Bowl with Seattle and Denver. They got after the quarterback, they got Peyton Manning shook up back there and defense won the game with them."
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