At this point it’s really hard to see anybody but Jadeveon Clowney going #1 in the NFL draft. So who will win the race to get him?
Holding the #1 overall pick pretty much makes the Houston Texans instant winners by default if they decide they want Clowney. However, there are two avenues open to them that could short circuit such a plan. They still desperately need a quarterback after the departure of Matt Schaub and by all accounts the front office is still very open to trade offers. Moving down would sacrifice Clowney but give them a bevy of extra picks in a deep draft. The fact it’s such a tough decision is a testament to how good the defensive end is.
If any coach is probably gunning for Clowney in this draft it would have to be Gus Bradley of the Jacksonville Jaguars. A defensive specialist when he was hired, Bradley has been on the lookout for a young pass rusher to build his team around and Clowney not only is the best in the 2014 draft but maybe the past ten drafts. Jacksonville does need a quarterback as well but considering their success will run through Bradley, grabbing a defensive star first will likely come to pass.
Rest assured that Jadeveon Clowney is not getting past the Jaguars at #3. That means any subsequent teams after below that pick will have to trade up to #2 at least to have their shot at him. The Atlanta Falcons remain a favorite to do just that. If the Texans pass on Clowney in favor of a quarterback or if they don’t overcharge for the #1 pick, the Falcons have made it known they aren’t against the idea of moving up. Their roster is ready to contend this season but still lacks that true difference-maker on the defensive side. Clowney would solve that problem.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If there is any coach on the planet who can get the most out of Jadeveon Clowney as a player, that is Lovie Smith. The new Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach is a renowned motivator who could build his defense for the next decade around the South Carolina product. TampaBay was already hugely aggressive in free agency. What’s to stop them from being the same in the NFL draft? They are clearly hell bent on winning now. The question depends on how much they’re willing to give up to get him.
It’s really hard to see the Houston Texans passing on Jadeveon Clowney, especially after his pro day. The chance to pair him with sack master J.J. Watt will be too strong to resist. However, if they somehow do then Jacksonville and Atlanta are the most obvious favorites to go after him in May.