After seemingly the entire brass of the Houston Texans took a visit down to Clown Town yesterday to witness the pro day of Jadeveon Clowney, it just further cemented my guess that he is going to be their pick at the top of the draft, barring a trade down. A large chunk of the casual fans who do not watch game tape of prospect footage and only look at sack numbers, or have allegiances to a specific college, probably won’t like that pick, but it is what it is. This isn’t a post to stump for Clowney; I’ve already done that. No, this is a write up to suggest what I think Houston will do after selecting Clowney number one and facing the very real problem that there still isn’t a franchise quarterback on the roster.
In selecting Clowney, I feel that Houston is going to commit themselves to making their defense the face of the franchise. A core of J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing and Jadeveon Clowney not only makes that easy to accept, but very simple to market. The quarterback doesn’t always have to be the face of the franchise. But I’m also not one of those who will use the tired argument of how the Ravens won it all with just some dude named Dilfer, either. What I am suggesting is that if Bill O’Brien is this “quarterback guru” we’ve all been sold that he is, he should be able to get good production out of one of the “second tier” prospects in this draft.
I know that I have been adamantly against Houston taking a quarterback in this draft in the second or third round because I feel like it’s a wasted pick. I still am in favor of not doing so and building up a stud defense in this draft while the current batch of QB’s on the roster bridge the gap until the 2015 season. But O’Brien has come out and said they will definitely be taking a QB in this draft and maybe even two. So for the sake of this article, I’m going to believe him on that statement.
I personally do not see one of the “big three” of quarterback prospects in this draft slipping into the second round, nor do I believe that Derek Carr will. Going by that, the top four guys are off the board and Houston has an entire day to make a decision on the best quarterback left before round two starts. When the time comes, I believe they will select…an offensive tackle. Yep. I do not think they will take a quarterback with the 33rd overall pick in this draft. Again, it’s difficult to predict trades, but I think Rick Smith will be working the phones all night trying to see what he can get for 33 overall since plenty with a first round grade will be available there. But I still do not see them taking a QB with that selection.
Bill O’Brien has said that he doesn’t see a lot of separation between the quarterbacks in this draft and I, for one, believe him at his word there. I realize this is “lying season” and a lot of things being said are smoke, but I believe this one. Therefore, I cannot envision them taking a quarterback until the third round at the earliest. They could trade back into the late second if they feel their guy is slipping away, but I think he’ll be available at 65th overall.
Now, before I say who it is, keep in mind that I didn’t even have this guy on my list of NFL caliber quarterbacks before I read this fantastic breakdown of the “second tier” guys by Greg Peshek of Rotoworld. After really diving into it and being guilty of labeling his measurements as a Bill O’Brien prototype, I came to my conclusion. I know plenty of you are going to hate this, but is there really a quarterback left that would make you jump up off of your sofa and make you do some Tiger Woods style fist-pumping? Of course not. That’s why I don’t have a problem telling you that regardless of some of his life choices in the inking department go, this is my guess:
Jokes about his tattoos and his insanely gorgeous fiance aside, A.J. McCarron ticks about as many of the boxes that Bill O’Brien supposedly looks for in a quarterback as Blake Bortles does. Plus, he’s actually played competent competition for his entire college career that saw him be a part of two national championships for the Crimson Tide. Does he have question marks? Of course he does. That’s the whole reason he would be picked at the top of the third and not early on day one.
Again, I don’t think there is any player I could have picked here that would have Texans fans proclaiming a big turnaround in 2014, but I do think it’s a realistic pick and the team has shown plenty of interest in him up to this point. He’s 6’3″ and weighs in at 220 pounds with a similar 40 time of Bortles. He doesn’t have a big time arm but is very accurate on passes under 20 yards and is pretty good at picking up the blitz.
Don’t get it confused here; McCarron was a product of a dominant defense and a strong running game at Alabama. This is something I could see them trying to replicate in Houston with the pairing of Watt and Clowney and hopefully a return to form of Arian Foster. However, if he doesn’t work out, it’s not as big of a risk as reaching for a project like Bortles at number one and passing on, in my opinion, a sure thing in Clowney.
Personally, I think McCarron could surprise some folks at the next level with competent coaching and a stud defense. He is every bit a game manager, but that could be all this team needs at the position for now. I’ll elaborate more in my mock draft in a couple of weeks.