As the Texans continue to host most of the guys expected to be taken at the top of the draft, the Texans could have a plan in mind other than making one of them the first overall selection on the evening of May 8.
The Texans could be seriously considering the possibility of trading down and then taking later in the top 10 the guy whose name they’d scrawl on the card if they use the top pick.
If that’s what the Texans do, they need to keep everyone guessing about the player they’d take later, so that they don’t get leapfrogged after trading down for the guy they want. From a P.R. standpoint, the Texans also need to be able to claim with a straight face that they got the guy later in the round whom they would have taken at No. 1. (Even if, you know, they don’t.)
A trade down makes more sense if, as Peter King recently suggested, Texans G.M. Rick Smith prefers linebacker Khalil Mack to defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Why take Mack with the first pick if someone else would give up plenty (potentially) to move up to the top to get Clowney?
Here’s another thought. Maybe leaking the Mack preference is simply the Texans’ way of getting the word out in subtle fashion that the top pick is available, if someone wants to move up to get Clowney. Maybe Clowney would still be the pick if Smith and new coach Bill O’Brien (pictured) can’t find a suitor, but the preference isn’t really Mack or Clowney but a trade down with the ability to get more opportunities to improve a team that was unexpectedly dreadful in 2013.
Regardless, the NFL’s decision to move one of the three offseason tent poles back by two weeks without also moving the other two (the Scouting Combine and free agency) has left everyone with extra time to fashion plans, to execute those plans, and also to then try to figure out what those plans may be.