Kanick Reader Mock: Texans select Blake Bortles.
JPFTribe is our man in Singapore. Since he’s on vacation next week (Vietnam!) I asked him to take us out with the Texans’ pick. BTW, in editing his post, the underscoring is mine. With some of the points made by JPF, it was an involuntary response to reach for a highlighter.
Kanick very graciously asked for help in
stealing borrowing an idea from Dawgs by Nature to do a reader mock draft. I drew the dubious distinction of being the first up, so here goes.
The idea is to anticipate the pick the team would make, not what I would do if I were the Texans. So let’s take the approach of understanding what the Texans may be thinking.
Rick Smith has been Texans GM since 2006. With the exception of his first pick, he has a very good track record of picking impact starters in the first round. J.J. Watt is easily the best example, but he also selected Brian Cushing, Duane Brown and Kareem Jackson in Round 1, all impact starters. His last two selections, Whitney Mercilus and DeAndre Hopkins have had smaller impacts, but are still quality starters. His only real bust was in 2007, drafting Amobi Okoye at No. 10 overall, the youngest player ever to be drafted in the NFL at 19 years of age.1
More insight into Smith’s first round style can be found here.
It’s a pretty fair assessment to say Smith has drafted for needs. Big, apparent needs. And has likely built some confidence in his ability to do so.
Bill O’Brien, first year NFL head coach, hot out of Penn State and a Belichick disciple. Although commonly referred to as an offensive minded head coach, this would sell him short. When asked about his offense at Penn State, O’Brien offered the following:
It’s a very personnel-oriented offense [with] many different personnel groupings and multiple formations. It’s a game-plan offense so we’re gonna look at who we play and say, ‘Here’s what they do on defense, and here’s what we’re going to do to try to attack that.’ What we’re gonna try to do with our offensive players is teach them about defense and get them to understand the fronts of coverages and pressures, and from there, put the offense in. We don’t try to teach them the offense right away. We spend a couple of days talking about defense and how we call things on defense, and then we put the offense in, so it’s very much a game-plan offense.
O’Brien is a student of defense in order to run his offense. Coming from the Belichick tree, this would make some sense. It would be fair to say he sees the value on both sides of the ball.
The Romeo Factor.
O’Brien brought Romeo Crennel in to run his defense. Crennel is another Belichick disciple that runs a 2-gap 3-4 defense. This raises some new issues with the Texans personnel and has a direct bearing on their potential No. 1 selection.
Biggest need is no doubt QB. Matt Schaub is now a Raider. Case Keenum is an UDFA and the Texans just signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to backup money. How important is a QB to O’Brien? “…., because nowadays that guy once he’s out on the field has got to be like a coach on the field.”
The Texans are fairly loaded at skill positions with plenty of targets for a competent QB. Adrian Foster is back at RB. Andre Johnson, last year’s first rounder DeAndre Hopkins, DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin comprise the receiving corp. Garrett Graham had 500+ yards receiving in only 13 games last year.
The Texans have three All-Pro’s on the left side of the line. However, they have a 7th round pick at RT and Duane Brown, the 1st Round LT, is going into his 8th year. An anchor tackle that can move over to the left side would be a good addition for them.
On the defensive side of the ball, it gets interesting with the hiring of Crennel. To Browns fans, the rhetoric is somewhat familiar. How does JJ Watt fit into the 2 gap scheme? Do they need another pass rushing specialist after drafting Whitney Mercilus to play this role? They are undersized at ILB for this style defense. Will Cushing stay healthy? It is a pretty safe bet the Texans won’t be using a 1st round pick in their secondary, but they have some big questions on their D line and at linebacker.
Well, it’s everybody. Anyone you want, first pick in the draft. Unfortunately for Rick Smith, there is no Payton or Eli Manning. No Andrew Luck, No John Elway, No Cam Newton.
With the first pick in the draft, you want a generational impact player, at an impact position. There is no position more impactful than QB. And it is a big need. Bortles, Bridgewater and Manziel all have question marks.
What is O’Brien looking for in a QB? Let’s hear from the man himself:
These are just some things that I believe in. I think when you’re out there and you’re thinking about who the quarterback of your team is, they have to have a few things. Number one, and don’t laugh, they’ve got to be able to throw the ball accurately. If you tell them to put it somewhere, they’ve got to be able to put it there, and they’ve got to be able to work at it to improve their accuracy. In my opinion they don’t have to be the greatest athletes in the world. If they are, that’s fantastic, there’s really great example of guys that are great athletes that are really good quarterbacks in the National Football League right now – Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, RG3. Those three guys can throw the football. Remember that first, they’re accurate passers. So they have to be able to throw.
Bortles – Mostly yes, with some caveats on his footwork;
Bridgewater – I dunno, I think Teddy is out of the running here;
Manziel – If he can get it over the line.
They’ve got to be able to make good decisions. They have to be able to be good decision makers. And you can judge a lot of that off the field. You can watch how these guys do things and carry themselves off the field, and they’ll help you when you’re watching them on the field if they’re making good quick decisions or they’re making crappy decisions. Those are things you have to observe but they have to be able to make good decisions.
Bortles – Check;
Bridgewater – A real strength;
Manziel – Fail, no way this guy plays for O’Brien.
This next one to me is really, really important. With all the multiplicity of the defenses these days, defenses at every level you’re seeing even, odd, we call it diamond, bear defense. You’re seeing bear. You’re seeing overload blitz. You’re seeing up the middle blitz. You’re seeing man-free, blitz zero. You’re seeing blitz zone, from the field, from the boundary. With all that, in my opinion, your quarterback has to be intelligent. He has to have a great football IQ. And if he doesn’t, if he can’t learn it, then he should play another position. I’m telling you, because nowadays that guy once he’s out on the field has got to be like a coach on the field. He has to understand what you want, how you want to attack the defense, and he’s got to understand football. In order to do it, he’s got to put work in.
Bortles – In my view, this is what they are trying to figure out now. If they think he has it, then he is their guy. O’Brien was impressed with him in their win over Penn State. What did O’Brien see at that game? (Skip to 5:15 for a good set of highlights.)
Bridgewater – His biggest strength;
Manziel – Not sure, and this is not his style of play.
What about Jadaveon Clowney? The guy is a freak in more ways than one. Here is your generational impact player of raw talent. Work ethic questions, undisciplined on the field as well. I’m going the Belichick disciple route on this one. I think they are confident/arrogant enough to coach him up out of the issues. Having JJ Watt and Brian Cushing around will certainly motivate his ass as well. The question is fit, and for Belichick guys, this is a big issue.
- He is not a three point stance, 2 gap DE.
- Do you want a guy with his talent taking on blockers to funnel to the linebackers?
- Do you convert him to a stand up OLB edge rusher?
- Do you make the first pick in the draft a developmental project?
Think back to that very first pick Rick Smith made in 2007. I think the answer is most likely no.
Khalil Mack – The fact the Kiper has him going to Houston on his mock board is probably reason enough to run from this, but there is no doubt he would solve some issues for the Texans. He is the monster outside pass rusher they were looking for in Mercilus. Crennel would scheme him into a lot of different formations, he is a great instinctual LB. Cushing is not a lock to return to his former self having been suspended for PED’s, then having two straight seasons of injury issues. This pick has real merit.
Greg Robinson / Jake Matthews – Either of these guys would look really good in a Texans uniform for many years to come. Either would start on the right side immediately and could switch spots with Brown in the next couple of years. The question is, do you make this pick to protect Ryan Fitzpatrick? I think this is most likely a no as well. Could be a big maybe if you think your guy is available at No 33.
Sammy Watkins – Legitimate No 1 pick talent. Game changing impact player at an impact position. Rick Smith would have to break the mould to make this pick, as it truly is not a need for them and they have other equally valid choices that are.
I think the Texans have four legitimate options here, but it will ultimately come down to two big decisions:
- Is Bortles O’Brien’s guy?
- How big of a project is Clowney?
Option 1 – Take Bortles.
He fills a huge need. Texans are not like most other No 1 selection teams as they are close to breaking through and can afford some risk.
Option 2 – Take Clowney.
The best player available theory that may fit a need. Certainly could be a compelling option for Romeo to utilize him with Watt, Cushing and Mercilus. Again, they can afford some risk.
Option 3 – Take Mack.
Rock solid safe pick, and that’s why it won’t happen (along with the Kiper kiss of death).
Option 4 – Trade the pick to ATL and take Mack, Robinson or Matthews at No. 6.
Bortles will be long gone with the Jags at No. 3, and it’s likely Mack and one of the tackles will be gone as well. This obviously assumes they have decided against both Bortles and Clowney. If they like Carr or Garropolo this could be viable as well if one of them is there at 33. If you really want to roll the dice, you could wind up with your franchise QB and your franchise Tackle in the same draft AND another 2nd round pick as a bonus.
So, what will they do……
With the first selection in the NFL 2014 Draft, the Houston Texans select:
Blake Bortles – QB UCF.
The St Louis Rams are on the clock……….
Cheers, and thanks to Kanick for the opportunity to contribute-
- Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch and Darrelle Revis were drafted in 3 of the 4 spots following, ouch. [back]