Going into the season, the Houston Texans were thought of as a Super Bowl contender out of the AFC. They have made it to the Divisional Round two years in a row, but have yet to play in the AFC Championship game. They were returning most of their offense, including wide receiver Andre Johnson, running back Arian Foster and quarterback Matt Schaub. They also drafted a speedy wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins during the first round.
The Texans on defense have the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, and were getting Brian Cushing back from an injury. They started the season 2-0 with comeback wins against the San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans. Since then, they have gone 0-12 and have had a revolving door at QB.
Schaub was ineffective and after he got injured, they turned to Tyler Yates. Yates, who won a playoff game in 2011, was given the first shot to replace Schaub, but went 12-for-17 with 98 yards and two interceptions in relief against the St. Louis Rams. Instead of giving him the start the next week, the Texans turned to second-year QB Case Keenum.
Keenum had his moments early on, and has not been turning the ball over. Going into Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, Keenum was completing only 54.3 percent of his passes and had nine touchdowns and four interceptions. However, in his first three games, Keenum had 7 touchdowns with zero interceptions. The Texans thought they had their replacement for Schaub and would be able to build around him instead of having to draft a quarterback.
Since then, he has had two touchdowns and six interceptions, and has not had a QB Rating over 68. On Sunday against division leader Indianapolis, Keenum went 18-for-34 with 168 yards, 0 TDs and two INTs. Indianapolis has one of the worst defenses in the NFL and has given up 38 or more points in three of their last five games. He was also sacked four times and Houston finished the game with only 239 total yards of offense.
They have burned Schaub this year and he probably doesn’t want to come back and play for them next year. Keenum has proven he can be a backup QB, but having never won a game with a team that has been a playoff team two years in a row has hurt his chances.
At this point, it’s looking very likely the Houston Texans will have the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Texans could very well trade that top pick. It’s probably not a likely scenario, particularly because of how affordable the contracts are for top draft picks thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
I think if it were going to happen it would be a trade with another team who also has a very early selection like the Atlanta Falcons. It’s possible for a team who might have a pick in the 20s to trade with Houston and snag South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, but it isn’t very likely. The Falcons could want the top pick to ensure they get Clowney, who’s not only the best player in the draft but someone who fills a position of need along the defensive line. One of the worst kept secrets in the league is the Falcons’ affinity for Clowney.
If the Texans do make a move out of the top spot, it’d be hard to criticize. After all, their biggest need isn’t DE, but I’d love to see Clowny reunited with his former teammate D.J. Swearinger. But if the Texans do decide to keep the pick they’ll be in a tough situation. Like I previously stated, QB is clear and away the biggest need of the Texans. This team is playoff-caliber at nearly every other positional unit except for the most important one. So do they take Clowney, the most talented defensive prospect since Lawrence Taylor, and then take a QB at the top of round two or do they take a QB with the first pick and never look back?
If they do elect to go with a quarterback with the first pick, it looks like there are three main candidates and one dark horse. Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) is the favorite, as he’s been the consensus top ranked QB on the big board since last spring. UCLA‘s Brett Hundley is only a redshirt sophomore but has terrific athleticism and size. Texas A&M‘s Johnny Manziel will be the crowd favorite, as he’s a Texan through and through and offers tremendous excitability with his playing style. Then the dark horse, Derek Carr from Fresno State, who’s seen his stock absolutely skyrocket this past year and looks like he could legitimately go in the top 10 or even top 5.
I personally would prefer to see the Texans take Clowney at the top and look for someone like A.J. McCarron at the top of round two. I know the ‘Golden Rule’ of the NFL Draft is to never pass on a franchise QB when you don’t have one, but there are two main anomalies in this particular class. Clowney is a once-in-a-generation talent and there is a lack of a guaranteed franchise quarterback like Andrew Luck.
While we can speculate about possible new coaches, draft scenarios, and more, one thing that’s constant is how horrific this season has been for the Texans. Looks like there will be lots of work for the front office in the offseason.