The Houston Texans are not being coy about their draft intentions.
The owners of the first pick in the draft already have made their intentions clear about that pick being for sale to the highest bidder. And now they might be sending strong hints about whom they are interested in drafting.
Team owner Bob McNair was quite revealing when speaking with the Texans team website and when the name of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. When asked about the mercurial Gamecock prospect, McNair — a South Carolina grad — didn't hold back.
“He is a remarkable player," McNair said. "He’s one of these players that’s really a once-in-every-10-years kind of physical specimen that comes along.”
McNair oversaw and approved the drafting of Mario Williams a decade ago (over the much ballyhooed Reggie Bush, mind you), so it would be no surprise if the owner can get behind drafting Clowney, even if he's far from the consensus top pick.
The Texans have a need a quarterback, and it's pressing. New head coach Bill O'Brien likely has figured this out by now. Matt Schaub will go elsewhere, per all indications, and holdover Case Keenum might not be who O'Brien envisions as his future leader under center. So that leaves the still-strong possibility that the Texans would take one first overall.
If McNair is letting it slip out now that he loves Clowney and that the pick is most definitely for sale, which GM Rick Smith has talked openly about, then it certainly opens the door quite wide for something other than, say, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater being the Texans' choice on May 8.
A working theory if you're the Texans: O'Brien is the kind of offensive mind who can turn a lesser prospect into just as good a pro as Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or another top-5 or top-10 prospect, so why not take a pass rusher such as Clowney if you believe in him?
The Texans also need to beef up their defensive pressure, even with J.J. Watt, and they might want another talent such as Clowney there not only to help take pressure off Watt from seeing every-down double teams, but also in reverse: as in, the highly motivated Watt being able to push the questionably motivated Clowney.
Incredibly, McNair even discussed such a scenario happening.
"One of the things I said to J.J. was, 'I don't know what will happen, if we get Clowney, I want you to instill the same kind of work habits that you have," McNair said. "He said, 'If he's in the same room as me, he'll have them.'"
If we get Clowney? Owners typically don't speak this candidly in public, not even with the home-team friendly official website folks. This is a clear sign that the Texans and their Palmetto State-bred owner are very much interested in Clowney — at one, or whatever pick they end up with.
It makes some sense. We already know that no-nonsense Mike Vrabel is coming to join O'Brien's staff, and together they — and the new defensive coordinator, rumored to be Romeo Crennel — could hope to turn Clowney into a Willie McGinest-like pass rusher if they can get that motor running hot consistently.
The early draft wheels are in motion, and this could be a fun one. The Texans and St. Louis Rams have put for-sale signs on their picks. There are 3-4 quarterbacks who could go high, and you have the Bridgewater, Clowney and Johnny Manziel factors — all buzz players whose destinations are quite up for conjecture. You also have a record number of underclassmen declaring, a number that could end up north of 100 (it was in the low 90s as of Tuesday) when it's all said and done.
And the Texans have made themselves one of the big stories. If the Cleveland Browns, let's say, decide they want Manziel, would they make a blockbuster trade — they own the 4th, 26th and 36th overall picks — with the Texans to get him?
We're just getting started here, folks. It could be a fun spring of speculation.
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