With the NFL Draft approaching, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the needs of each club. We start with the team with the No. 1 overall selection, the Houston Texans. The Texans have 11 total choices, and with a new coach bringing a new system, they’ll need several of them to contribute right away.
Quarterback: It’s hard to imagine Bill O’Brien would take this job (when he had other options), only to take the financial hit of getting rid of Matt Schaub just so he could start Ryan Fitzpatrick under center.
While his time working with Tom Brady in New England gives us some idea of what he might want in a passer, the reality is there’s a chance for a clean slate here.
When you’re picking first overall, there’s usually a reason for it, and a bit of latitude. There might be local pressure to take Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (and it might be the right thing to do), but O’Brien might think the ceiling of Blake Bortles is a bit higher.
The Texans have to take one early, so it really comes down to whether they want to take the best player in the draft first, or use the 33rd pick on a quarterback. There are guys at the top of the second round that teams covet, and the best overall value might be going that route.
Outside linebacker: Yes, about that best player in the draft business.
Jadeveon Clowney might simply be impossible to pass if you have the first pick, no matter who you have to play at quarterback. Unless of course you prefer Khalil Mack, which Texans General Manager Rick Smith reportedly does..
While Clowney’s more of the tradition 4-3 end frame, his pass-rush ability is obvious, and tremendous. Mack’s more of the traditional 3-4 look, but has incredible potential as well.
Taking either would allow them to move Brooks Reed inside next to Brian Cushing, and might allow Whitney Mercilus to take advantage of being ignored on the other side.
Adding an impact player to a defense which already includes J.J. Watt would allow them to be potentially dominant, and that in and of itself would buy a rookie quarterback some time.
Nose tackle: New defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel would love to have a big space-eater in the middle, and there really isn’t one on the roster at the moment. They do have former Chiefs defensive tackle Jerrell Powe (with whom Crennel worked in Kansas City). But if there was a player such as Louis Nix hanging around at No. 33, they’d have to be interested.
Finding a fixture there will require a significant investment, and with their other needs, they might have to make do with a journeyman such as Powe for a year and hope for the best.
Offensive line: The Texans have needs at guard and right tackle, and could stand to add a number of players here for the sake of competition.
Along with depth at running back and the secondary, they have a few spots at which they can concentrate multiple picks.
Since they have five picks in the sixth and seventh rounds, expect them to fling several of those at these spots, to see what sticks.