May 11, 2014
Draft Yields Clowney, Savage
by Bob Hulsey
After all the speculation, the Texans wound up doing what you're supposed to do when you have the top overall pick in the NFL draft. They took the best player.
That player is defensive end Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina, a cat-quick mix of suddeness and violence that is apt to terrorize opposing ball carriers and give them something else to fear when they line up against Houston beside J.J. Watt. Look for new Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel to find some inventive ways to line up the two men to confuse and confound quaterbacks this fall.
What everyone expected was for the Texans to manuever their way into taking a quarterback to develop in the draft. But the Texans filled other needs then waited until the third day when they tapped Pittsburgh signal-caller Tom Savage who has the height and build new Head Coach Bill O'Brien wants but has gone through two college transfers and will be 24 years old before taking an NFL snap.
Three other players became new Texans before Savage was claimed in the bottom of the fourth round with a compensation pick. UCLA offensive guard Xavier Su'a-Filo, who many saw as the best guard in the draft, became the first selection of the second round. Look for him to be an instant starter, likely replacing Wade Smith on the left side next to Duane Brown.
Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz from Iowa, who was chosen to start the third round, may also get immediate playing time as the replacement for Owen Daniels. He was considered the best combination of blocker and pass catcher for his position although three tight ends were picked before him.
The surprise of the draft, from Houston's angle, was the trading up with Philadelphia into the third round to snag defensive tackle Louis Nix of Notre Dame. The move cost Houston the first pick in the fourth and fifth rounds but they got a quick and massive nose tackle who had been expected to be taken in the first round by most experts. Nix may have fallen because of concerns about his knees and weight.
After choosing Savage, the Texans filled the final two rounds with SEC alumni. With the first choice of the sixth round, Houston took defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan of Alabama as the d-line continued an overhaul. LSU running back Alfred Blue hopes to rise from obscurity the way Arian Foster did and Auburn fullback Jay Prosch hopes to open the holes for him.
Finally, the secondary got some attention with the additions of Vanderbilt corner Andre Hal and Memphis safety Lonnie Ballentine, the final selection of the draft.
The search for undrafted free agents began immediately afterwards with notables like linebacker Max Bullough of Michigan St., Rice kicker Chris Boswell and West Texas A&M receiver Nathan Slaughter among the hopefuls coming to camp.
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