The first overall pick in the NFL draft has not been traded since the New York Giants acquired Eli Manning from the San Diego Chargers in exhange for Philip Rivers and some other parts back in 2004. The Houston Texans could very well be looking to do just that when the draft gets going later this week.
According FOX 26 in Houston, Texans owner Bob McNair had this to say about potentially moving down…
You take a guy like Clowney. He’s obviously the best player in the draft, but he’s a defensive end. He’s not a quarterback. If he’s a quarterback and the best player it’s easy, but that’s not the case. So can that defensive player have a greater impact on the success of your team than one of these quarterbacks?
It’s not a sure thing that he is. . . . If somebody wants you to drop down and they give you two or three more picks that would let you get two or three more quality players, are you a stronger team dropping down a little bit, getting these additional picks and getting more depth?
Good for McNair. He’s not one of those owners who are completely clueless when it comes to the NFL draft and evaluating talent. Clowney is the clear No. 1 player in the draft, but the Texans already have an elite front-four player in J.J. Watt. If they can move down a few spots, grab that franchise quarterback and acquire a couple picks, that would be ideal.
Who might be looking to trade up? After all, you have to have a partner in all of this.
Three clubs that I think would have enough interest in Clowney to try and trade up: Falcons, Jaguars and Bills. Won't be cheap, though.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 1, 2014
The Atlanta Falcons have been rumored to be interested in Clowney for some time now. He fits a need for a pass rusher on that suddenly youthful defense, especially with Osi Umenyiora likely gone in 2014 and not much after that in terms of a pass-rush threat. Moving from six to one would likely require the Falcons to yield their second and fourth rounders this year as well as a first-round pick in the 2015 draft. Is Clowney worth it?
A team like the Jacksonville Jaguars may show interest. As a defensive-minded head coach, it would be insane to think what Gus Bradley could do for Clowney’s growth early in his career. He also fits a position of need, as Jacksonville has been linked to both Khalil Mack and Clowney. If it is worried that those two players will go off the board with the first two picks, it might have to make a deal to nab one of them. A trade here would have to start with Jacksonville’s second rounder and go from there.
What if a team isn’t targeting Clowney at No. 1 and wants to move up for another position, maybe a quarterback?
If the Cleveland Browns want to secure their favorite quarterback, whoever that is, they could make a move up to the first pick. Flushed with seven picks in the first four rounds, a deal here could make sense for Cleveland. A move up would likely require the 26th overall pick and a third rounder to go along with the fourth selection.
Then you have a team like the San Francisco 49ers, who could throw numerous picks the Texans way in order to secure a Jadeveon Clowney or Sammy Watkins. While they are picking at the bottom of the first round, the 49ers have two second-rounds picks and three third-rounds picks to work with. Houston likely wouldn’t get equal value in a move that far down, but it would pick up a ton of picks to help rebuild a roster that went 2-14 last season. Of all the scenarios, this is the least likely. But it’s also something to keep an eye on considering all the picks San Francisco boasts and the rumors that it is looking to move up in the draft. Again, unlikely.
Overall, there are a ton of options here for the Texans. They could stand pat at No. 1 overall, take Clowney and then either hope a quarterback falls to the secound round or trade back into the first to acquire one. They could move down a few spots, secure that quarterback and pick up some valuable selections in one of the deepest drafts. They could even stand pat at one and go with Johnny Manziel, though McNair’s comments make that seem unlikely.
In any event, it’s going to be an interesting next few days in Houston.
Photo: Troy Taormina, USA Today