The Houston Texans have been able to quietly rebuild this franchise over the past two seasons without having to tear the walls down completely. Bill O’Brien came in and laid a foundation and slowly worked each one of Gary Kubiak‘s system guys out of town. They seemed to be heading in the right direction until a colossal meltdown in the playoffs.
OB and Rick Smith came into this offseason wanting a new offense. While the defense lost a few parts, there was enough depth that they could overlook that area and get help for DeAndre Hopkins and their new quarterback Brock Osweiler. It’s safe to say the days of grinding out the ball on the ground and letting Arian Foster run out the clock seem to be long gone.
The Houston Texans traded away a sixth round draft pick to move up a whole slot to grab Notre Dame’s Will Fuller. Fuller is one of the fastest player in the draft, but let’s not forget so was Darrius Heyward-Bey.
I have asked my brother to be a contributor on the Wayniac Nation for a long time. Due to his busy work schedule and the fact that he travels around the world at will, he has always said, “Leave me alone.” Well, it turns out that every year, he sends an email to his friends predicting the first round of the NFL Draft. This year, he let me read his traditional email.
Well, brother, you may have yet again not wanted to write for Wayniac Nation, but the email made me chuckle. So I took it and turned it into an article. You may have not wanted to be a part of The Nation, but today, I inadvertently welcome you aboard The Wayniac Nation. Enjoy draft fans! Take it away, little bro:
Wayniac Nation is proud to introduce to you our newest edition. Tim “SaucyT” Mason is part of “The Thread”, the legendary group text message that started my wheels turning, my gears grinding, and provided a lot of the fodder that motivated me to create The Wayniac blog. Tim, a die hard Falcons’, was simply miserable this past NFL season. I know because I sat through several tough ones next to him. When the Falcons were 2-9 in November, Tim started talking about the draft. No lie, November. With not an inkling of a clue of how the last five games would turn out or what draft pick the Falcons would snag, this guy turned his attention to scouting what the Falcons needed with an early pick in the draft. He and Sperry would spit out different options at different draft picks on a weekly basis. Once I realized I didn’t know half the offensive lineman or tight ends or linebackers they were taking about, it only seemed right that I ask Saucy T to join Wayniac Nation as our Draft Expert. So, without further ado:
MASON’S MOCK 2014 NFL DRAFT:
When I started preparing for my 1st annual NFL mock draft, I started thinking about how amazing the NFL is. What other sport draws 7.7 MILLION viewers for the first round of its amateur draft… on a Thursday. In total, almost 20 million viewers tuned in to watch the 3-day event. I started to wonder what made the NFL Draft so great, and then it all clicked.
A rumor began to circulate about a possible Goonies’ sequel. Stay with me here and let me explain. Growing up I, like many children of the 80’s, loved The Goonies. The Truffle Shuffle hit the mainstream months before the famous Super Bowl Shuffle. When I heard that there might be a sequel I began to think of all the possibilities, and I was both anxious and filled with hope. They may never make a Goonies’ sequel, or they might make a terrible Goonies’ sequel, but there is a chance that they make something great. Richard Donner may just give us the perfect blend of humor, adventure and nostalgia to create another classic piece of cinema. Similarly, guys like Jadeveon Clowney, Mike Evans, and Johnny Manziel could end up as busts, but maybe, just maybe they are the perfect blend of size, speed, and heart that makes a great NFL player. The NFL Draft gives us a sense of hope. In a league filled with parity, one great draft could change any team’s fate. The Dog Pound in Cleveland, The Hoggettes in D.C., and The Flock in Atlanta all believe that their teams are just one great draft away from hoisting that Lombardi Trophy, and they all tune in anxiously waiting to see the next jersey they will buy. I’m sure my mock draft won’t be perfect (nobody is), but I’m trying to balance what I think each team’s needs are with the best available players and I’ve thrown in a few trades for fun. And just remember if this year’s draft doesn’t work out for your team, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are only a year away, and “GOONIES NEVER SAY DIE”.
1. Houston Texans – Jadeveon Clowney (DE/South Carolina)
12 years ago the Houston Texans were a newborn NFL franchise and had the number one overall pick in the NFL draft. They had to make a decision between a small school quarterback (David Carr) and a once in a generation talent at defensive end (Julius Peppers). Sound familiar? I think the Texans learn from their rookie mistake and take the best player in this draft. Trade… Minnesota Vikings trade pick 8, pick 40, and 2015 second round pick to St. Louis Rams for pick 2
2. Minnesota Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater (QB/Louisville)
Some quick facts about the Vikings:
1. They are only one year removed from being a playoff team.
2. They have a running back who is 29 years old (I know how great AP is, but LT was great, too, and his wheel’s still came off at the dreaded age of 29).
3. They need a quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater is the most NFL ready QB in this draft and can help the Vikings contend immediately.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Sammy Watkins (WR/Clemson)
The Jaguars miss out on Teddy Bridgewater and will wait until round two to find their signal caller. Justin Blackmon will probably never put on the hideous Jaguars helmet again, which means Jacksonville will be looking for some playmakers to help whoever is under center. Sammy Watkins is the best receiver in this class, and will help give Jacksonville fans something exciting to watch when the games aren’t blacked out.
4. Cleveland Browns – Derek Carr (QB/Fresno State)
Many believe that the Browns will wait until pick 26 to take their next quarterback, but then they have to worry about those pesky teams trading back into round two to hop them. Although they may look at one of tackles, I think they decide to take “their guy” at the most important position in the NFL. (But they’ll probably change their mind next year and draft Mariota) Nothing will ever surprise me with the Browns.
5. Oakland Raiders – Khalil Mack (OLB/Buffalo)
Khalil Mack plays with a violence on the football field that I’m sure Raiders fans in the Black Hole will fall in love with, and playing in a division with guys like Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers you had better be able to get pressure on the QB. Khalil Mack will add some much needed youth to a newly signed veteran linebacking group.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Greg Robinson (OT/Auburn)
Atlanta was hoping to land one of the premier pass rushers in this draft (Clowney or Mack) but getting a true mauler like Greg Robinson will instantly help keep Arthur Blank’s $103 million investment, Matty Ice, off his back, and that’s a pretty nice consolation prize. Robinson can slide right in at RT and slide to LT after new O Line coach Mike Tice helps him with his pass blocking.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Evans (WR/Texas A&M)
After trading away Mike Williams and all of his off-field issues, the Buccaneers are left with Vincent Jackson at wide receiver and … Skye Dawson? Tommy Streeter? Exactly. The Buccaneers probably need to find two wide receivers in this draft and would do well to draft the first one here.
8. St. Louis Rams – Jake Matthews (OT/Texas A&M)
Back to back Aggies coming off the board. Although the Rams didn’t get an RGIII type of haul in their trade back, they still get a guy they may have considered at pick 2 plus a couple of second round picks. Jeff Fisher coached Jake’s dad, Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, with the Oilers/Titans organization and has seen Jake grow up from a small boy (if he was ever “small”) into possibly the most NFL ready tackle in this class.
9. Buffalo Bills – Taylor Lewan (OT/Michigan)
The Bills would love if Matthews slid one more spot to them, but since he is already gone they may reach slightly to take a player at a position of need. Last year the Bills shocked everyone by drafting E.J. Manuel extremely high due to his “lunchpail” mentality. Lewan has that same blue collar attitude and plays with a mean streak that will endear him to the diehard fans in Toronto, err… uh.. I mean Buffalo. The Toronto Bills won’t be on the clock until 2016.
10. Detroit Lions – Justin Gilbert (CB/Oklahoma St.)
There is a lot of chatter about the Lions moving up for Sammy Watkins, but Detroit has plenty of weapons. When you have to line up against Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery twice a year it will be nice to have a 6’0/202 lb CB with 4.37 speed like Gilbert.
Trade… St. Louis Rams trade pick 13 and pick 110 to Tennessee Titans for pick 11
11. St. Louis Rams – Ha’sean Clinton-Dix (S/Alabama)
The value of a great safety is increasing in the NFL. Look no further than the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. If you need to look further, just look at the contracts that guys like Jarius Byrd and TJ Ward got in free agency. That kind of money is no joke. Ha Ha will definitely provide the coaching staff in St. Louis with a defensive playmaker in the back half of their defense. 12. New York Giants – Aaron Donald (DT/Pitt)
After losing Linval Joseph in free agency the Giants are left looking for a DT in the draft and they get the best one here at twelve. Aaron Donald may be slightly undersized, but he plays much bigger than his 285 lbs. Donald will help the Giants defensive line get back to their Super Bowl winning ways when they wreaked havoc on quarterbacks throughout the NFL.
13. Tennessee Titans – Darqueze Dennard (CB/Michigan St.)
Darqueze Dennard will help the Titans ease the loss of Alterraun Verner to the Buccaneers. Many experts believe Dennard is the best CB in this class and he will be able to step in and start right away. Dennard will go through growing pains just like most rookie CBs, but he has all the tools to succeed in the long run.
14. Chicago Bears – C.J. Mosley (ILB/Alabama)
The Chicago Bears and middle linebackers go together like John Hughes’ movies and teen angst. The middle linebacker position has long been the anchor of great defenses in Chicago, and their defense last year was anything but great (ranked 31st in points allowed). Although they need help along the defensive line and in the secondary, Mosley is the best defensive player available here and will hope to patrol Soldier field as well as Butkus, Singletary, and Urlacher did before him.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – Louis Nix III (NT/Notre Dame)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the few teams that have been running the 3-4 defense longer than I can remember. They certainly understand that without a big body in the middle to eat up blockers, their playmaking linebackers will not be able to make plays. Louis Nix III definitely fills that void. At 6’2/331 lbs Nix will be able to anchor the middle of the defense and allow young guys like last years first round pick Jarvis Jones run free and make plays.
Trade… Green Bay Packers trade pick 21, pick 85, and pick 121 to Dallas Cowboys for pick 16 and pick 158.
16. Green Bay Packers – Calvin Pryor (S/Louisville)
The Packers need help in the back half of their defense. The fear that Baltimore will be looking for a safety at 17 will leave Green Bay no alternative to pay the price and jump in front of the Ravens to take Pryor. Pryor is a big hitter and will help the Packers bolster their 25th ranked rush defense.
17. Baltimore Ravens – Brandin Cooks (WR/Oregon St.)
Baltimore’s offense lacked playmakers last year as they went through a Super Bowl hangover season. They’ve brought in Steve Smith in free agency, but at 34 years old he isn’t the playmaker he once was. Brandin Cooks is only 5’10, but who better to help him develop into a true NFL weapon than Steve Smith, who is only 5’9 himself.
18. New York Jets – Eric Ebron (TE/UNC)
Eric Ebron fits the mold of the new pass catching tight end in the NFL. The Jets would love for him to slide all the way to 18 and be able to give Geno Smith a real weapon and security blanket to help him cut down on the 21 interceptions he threw in his rookie year.
19. Miami Dolphins – Zack Martin (G,T/Notre Dame)
The Miami Dolphins offensive line issues in 2013 extended far beyond play on the field. With Richie Incognito and Jonathon Martin gone from the team and the locker room, the Dolphins will look to rebuild their offensive line from the ground up. Martin gives them a tough, gritty player that can play all over the line. Definitely a luxury to have when rebuilding.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Ra’Shede Hageman (DT/Minnesota)
In order to compete with San Francisco and Seattle, the Cardinals look to strengthen their defense by bringing in what could turn out to be the steal of the first round. Hageman has the physical tools to be a top ten pick, but has never put it all together. If Bruce Arians and the Arizona coaching staff can find a way to keep Hageman motivated, it might just be enough to help the Cardinals leap frog the 49ers in the NFL’s new black and blue division.
Trade… San Francisco 49ers trade pick 30 and pick 61 to Dallas Cowboys for pick 21.
21. San Francisco 49ers- Anthony Barr (OLB/UCLA)
The 49ers have three picks in the first two rounds and a roster without many holes. These two things allow them the luxury of slightly overpaying to move up and get a pass rusher who was once considered to be a top ten pick. With Aldon Smith’s future in San Francisco in doubt, Barr will be able to help fill that void. Although Barr is very raw his ceiling is as high as any pass rusher in this class.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Odell Beckham Jr. (WR/LSU)
The Philadelphia Eagles released Desean Jackson this offseason, and will look to add more weapons to Chip Kelly’s fast paced offense to replace him. Beckham Jr. will probably be third on the depth chart as a rookie, behind Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, but in that offense you can never have too many weapons.
23. Kansas City Chiefs – Marqise Lee (WR/USC)
Marqise Lee was once considered to be the top wide receiver in the 2014 draft class and a sure fire top ten pick. A down 2013 season for Lee and USC along with some of the other wideouts breaking out led to Lee sliding down most draft boards. The Chiefs will gladly end Lee’s slide as they look to strengthen an offense looking for more weapons beyond Jamal Charles and Dwayne Bowe.
Trade… New England Patriots trade pick 29, pick 130, and pick 198 to Cincinnati Bengals for pick 24.
24. New England Patriots – Cody Latimer (WR/Indiana)
With a run on wide recievers beginning, and a few wideout needy teams (Carolina, New Orleans) in front of them, the Patriots pull the trigger and move up to get Tom Brady the big outside target he has been lacking since Randy Moss left. At 6’3 and 215 lbs, Latimer will provide a big body on the outside to help give guys like Amendola and Edelman room to run free underneath. 25. San Diego Chargers – Bradley Roby (CB/Ohio State)
Roby is another player with all the physical tools to be a top 15-20 pick, but his off the field issues may be enough to make some teams shy away. Roby may start as a nickel back his rookie year, but having to go up against Peyton Manning twice, the Chargers will look to have a strong nickel defense.
Trade… Oakland Raiders trade pick 36 and pick 67 to Cleveland Browns for pick 26.
26. Oakland Raiders – Blake Bortles (QB/UCF)
The Oakland Raiders traded for Matt Schaub for their short term answer at QB, and move back into the first round to get their long term answer at the position. Many have Bortles going in the top ten picks, but once he makes it past the QB needy teams, his tumble down the board begins. Bortles will have time in Oakland to learn under Schaub for a year or two before he takes over.
27. New Orleans Saints – Kony Ealy (DE/Missouri)
Rob Ryan helped transform the Saints defense from a laughing stock into a serviceable unit in just one year. The front office gave him a new piece to help the secondary in Jarius Byrd, and now they will add another pass rusher to help the defense take the next step.
28. Carolina Panthers – Morgan Moses (OT/Virginia)
Jordan Gross chose to retire at age 33, leaving a hole on the Carolina Panthers offensive line. Morgan Moses is a raw athlete, but possesses all the physical tools to turn into a great tackle in the NFL.
29. Cincinnati Bengals – Ryan Shazier (OLB/Ohio State)
The Bengals don’t have many positions of need, but Shazier will be able to add depth to a great defense and can play inside and outside linebacker.
30. Dallas Cowboys – Timmy Jernigan (DT/FSU)
The Cowboys switch to a Tampa 2 defense last year didn’t quite go as planned. Monte Kiffin is out as defensive coordinator, but his replacement Rod Marinelli also runs the Tampa 2 and will be looking for a defensive tackle to play the Warren Sapp role in his defense and help apply pressure from the interior of the line. Jernigan would be a perfect fit in that role and will help make the Cowboys defense look a little more like those great Bucs and Bears teams running the Tampa 2.
31. Denver Broncos – Kyle Fuller (CB/Virginia Tech)
Adding Aqib Talib in free agency will help bolster the Denver secondary, but Talib has a history of not playing in all 16 games, so adding another CB in the draft will provide the Broncos with depth and insurance.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Kelvin Benjamin (WR/FSU)
The Seahawks will continue to be a team that wins by running the ball and playing great defense, but adding Kelvin Benjamin will help give them a true red zone threat at the receiver position that could take their offense to the next level.
“It would be the worst decision they’ve ever made. I’d be in the same division playing against them twice a year. Sorry, but you just turned that chip on my shoulder from a Fritos into a Dorito.”
I tried, folks. I wanted to steer clear of a draft rant until after the NFL Combine concluded on February 25th. Then over the weekend, Johnny Manziel had to once again tell the sports world about how great a quarterback Johnny Manziel is. Well, I don’t buy it.
It’s not that I hate Johnny Football or think he doesn’t have the skills to succeed in the NFL. I don’t think he is what the Texans, my favorite NFL team, need at number one. I don’t think any of these QBs are. Seemingly everyday some draft expert has new insight on how the Texans need to take Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel. Well which one is it? According to Johnny Football, the first pick should be Johnny Football.
If you have been following me on Twitter, you know I have been taking two approaches. One, I am trying to start #TeamClowney because that is who, at the current moment, I want at number one overall. Secondly, I said I was not yet sold on the quarterbacks and that they could change my mind at the NFL Combine next week, which was why I was trying to hold off on a blog. Johnny Manziel will not be there as he is voluntarily skipping the event to prepare for his Pro Days.
While people question Clowney’s desire and motivation, I question if Manziel knows what he is talking about. Let’s dissect his quote from the other day: It would be the worst decision they have ever made. Has he watched the Texans at all over the last decade? This is a team that drafted Dunta Robinson, Travis Johnson, Amobi Okoye, and Kareem Jackson in the first round and kept Gary Kubiak as head coach for about 3 seasons too long. I’d be in the same division playing against them twice a year. This of course is speculation that if the Texans pass on Mr. Football then the Jaguars would snatch him up at the third pick. This is the same Jaguars team that swept the Texans last season and the same Jaguars team that won two games in 2012 and took the Texans, amid their best season in history, to the last seconds of overtime in a high scoring affair, and the same Jaguars that the Texans own a career 13-11 record over. The Jaguars have been doing quite alright handling the Texans without Johnny Football. Sorry, but you just turned that chip on my shoulder from a Fritos into a Dorito. How delightfully metaphorical. I don’t care for Fritos much though, so I would hope it was a Dorito from the get go, preferably the Spicy Nacho flavor.
So why am I opposed to Manziel and this year’s flock of QBs at number one? Sure, the Texans need a QB badly, but is jumping on a prospect based on only their potential the right thing to do at number one? In 1984 the Portland Trail Blazers needed a center and they drafted Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. Sometimes talent supersedes need. If you subscribe to the philosophy that you address needs in the draft over talent, let me throw this at you: the Texans addressed their biggest need last December when they fired Kubiak. His play calling had gone stale and their offense became predictable. He laid it up too often when the Texans needed him to be Tin Cup and just go for it.
Manziel is not the right choice for the Texans. Our fan base deserves a proven winner, not a stat sheet filler. The current starter (I think) Case Keenum set records as a Houston Cougar and did very little last season to show that he is starting NFL QB material. Across the state, Dallas has been dealing with Tony Romo lighting up box scores for years with nothing to show for it. If the Texans go QB number one, he has to be Andrew Luck-esque, a guy who is going to get the team to the playoffs in year one and take over the division in year two. Drafting Johnny Manziel as the future of the team is not my problem. My problem is in drafting him with the number one overall pick. If the Texans had the fifth to seventh pick, I would have no problem with a gamble however, with the first pick overall, you need an immediate game changer. Take a look at the last four years. Andrew Luck and Cam Newton are considered elite, while people are beginning to question Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford. Yes, the same Matthew Stafford who has thrown for over 4,500 yards the last three seasons is viewed by some as uncoachable. Why? Because the Lions don’t win.
Manziel’s stats speak volumes, but stats do not win titles. In all of his college greatness, the Aggies had no division or conference championships and no BCS Bowl appearances to show for it. The Heisman you say? Sure, he was the first freshman to win the award, but it was considered by many to be the weakest Heisman class ever: Manti Te’o, Collin Klein, Marqise Lee, and Braxton Miller. What happened this season when he battled against Jameis Winston, Andre Williams, Tre Mason, Jordan Lynch, and AJ McCarron? He finished fifth.
I know, Clowney’s Gamecocks didn’t win any championships either. The reality of football however is that the quarterback is the ultimate leader. When the team wins the quarterback is the hero while when they lose he’s the goat. Clowney led a defense that had USC finish in the Top Ten in the nation all three years he was in school. Johnny Manziel’s Aggies only finished in the Top Ten once in his two year tenure.
Jadeveon Clowney is a freak of nature. Standing at 6’5″ and 274 pounds with 4.5 40-speed, he has the perfect build to transition from college defensive end to 3-4 linebacker in Houston’s scheme. He was the consensus top ranked recruit going into college and is currently the number one ranked draft prospect overall. He was Freshman of the Year in his first campaign, and while Manziel turned heads as the first freshman to win the Heisman, Clowney was the first sophomore to win the Hendrick’s Award as the top end in the nation. He times the snap better than most and he is too quick for trap blocking schemes. He can defend the run and the pass and has unlimited potential. What scares draft experts and NFL people is his head. Many feel that he took last season off to protect himself for his big payday in May. They question his work ethic because he was late to a few meetings and wasn’t the first-and-last-in-the-weight-room type of guy. There is some worry whether he will still have the desire and drive once he signs and makes his millions. I can’t answer that, but I’m willing to take that chance on sheer talent alone.
Manziel? He’s either the number 2 or 3 ranked QB heading into the draft and around the number 7 overall prospect depending on whose information you use. He is short for a QB standing at 6’1 and 210 pounds. He recently thanked Russell Wilson for showing that short QBs can win it all. No mention of how their defense (which was mainly built through the draft) came through when their offense sputtered throughout the season, eh, Johnny? The big knock on Manziel is that he falls away from his throws whether there is any pressure or not and this directly effects his consistency and accuracy. Well that doesn’t sound very good to me at all.
Who is Manziel’s primary competition? Teddy Bridgewater is a very good quarterback at many aspects of his game; however, he is just not a great quarterback. Blake Bortles has the quarterback build, but his footwork and throwing mechanics are questionable. When I look at Teddy Bridgewater I see a Big Ben type of QB while in Johnny Manziel I see a Russell Wilson or a more quarterback-ready Tim Tebow. When I watch Bortles, the way he runs and throws, I see Andrew Luck. Which of those guys would you draft first overall?
Recently, Manziel received two ringing endorsements from some pretty elite company. John McClain, esteemed writer for the Chronicle and regular insider on the NFL Network, said he is sold on Manziel as the right pick for the Texans, while legendary New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre said he sees himself when he looks at Manziel. Despite these prestigious opinions, I still feel that taking Manziel with the first pick is as equal a gamble as taking Clowney first and picking a project like Zach Mettenberger with a later selection. Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Russell Wilson turned out to be pretty darn good quarterbacks and they couldn’t even sneak into the first round never mind the first pick overall. Every Andrew Luck pick has a Jamarcus Russell to counter it and every Peyton Manning has a Jeff George. If Manziel was the clear cut choice over Bridgewater and Bortles, then the Texans would have to go for him. But he isn’t, and he won’t be at the Combine to prove to me otherwise.
I need to cool off. By the time you read this, I’m sure Derek Carr will be the projected number one pick in the draft. I wouldn’t mind that actually because I could whip out my David Carr jersey and wear it again with pride. Until next time, here’s to USA bringing home that hockey gold!