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April 27, 2014

Mocking Clowney

In this feature, GamecockCentral.com takes a look at where several NFL Draft experts are projecting defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to be selected in May's NFL Draft. The feedback from each expert has been compiled from the respective websites for which each writes.

Projection of NFL.com's Bucky Brooks: Number one overall to Houston.

"A frontline featuring Clowney, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus would make AFC quarterbacks shake in their boots facing the Texans."

Projection of SI.com's Chris Burke: Number three overall to Jacksonville

"Here's what Gus Bradley had to say at the combine in regard to his QB spot: "Everybody is tagged with, 'Is he a franchise quarterback?' That's really difficult. I guess Chad Henne is ours and he's our starter … if we get him re-signed." Hardly reassuring words for Jaguars fans. A QB would be easy to justify and to understand here. That said, Bradley is a defensive-minded coach who is badly in need of someone to pressure opposing quarterbacks off the edge. He may never get another chance to land someone like Clowney to fill that role."

Burke's other picks: Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater number one to Houston, Auburn OT Greg Robinson number two to St. Louis.

Projection of RotoWorld.com's Evan Silva: Number one overall to Houston

"The Texans have kept their cards close to the vest regarding the draft's top pick, but Clowney is the odds-on favorite as Houston transitions to Romeo Crennel's style of 3-4. Crennel's defenses have historically relied on outside linebackers to generate pressure, rather than down linemen. Clowney would play the Willie McGinest role in Crennel's scheme, bookending Whitney Mercilus with Brooks Reed kicking to inside linebacker. Houston can select a quarterback at No. 33 overall."

Projection of WalterFootball.com's Charlie Campbell: Number one overall to Houston. "It just doesn't make sense for Houston to reach on an inferior talent. I think they will channel their 2006 approach when they took Mario Williams instead of Reggie Bush, Vince Young or Matt Leinart. In speaking with sources, none of the quarterbacks are grading out as a true No. 1 overall pick.

It definitely is possible that Houston will gradually fall in love with a quarterback prospect, but right now, I think Bill O'Brien will look to work with a veteran and target a Russell Wilson-like or Colin Kaepernick-like quarterback on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft. If that plan doesn't work next season, the 2015 NFL Draft is loaded at the quarterback position, so the Texans can aim to get their franchise signal-caller in Year 2 of O'Brien's regime.

Even though Houston had a rough 2013, general manager Rick Smith has built a talented roster. The Texans could use an edge-rusher to come from the other side of J.J. Watt. With Clowney's blinding speed and rare athleticism, he'll fit just fine in a 3-4."

Projection of ESPN.com's Mel Kiper Jr.: Number one overall to Houston

"I'm certain the debate about which player to take still exists, and whether the pick could be moved. I still think this could be a quarterback. But I believe that while more than one "safe" pick exists in this draft, it's hard to play it safer in terms of upside than selecting a generational physical talent, a guy who has exceptional physical skills and the ability to bring immediate impact and create consistent matchup problems up front as teams deal with the reality of how to block both Clowney and J.J. Watt. The questions on Clowney still aren't enough to diminish the potential impact. He's the top prospect in a draft full of very good ones, and I think Houston will feel the same. "

Projection of CBSSports.com's Rob Rang: Number one overall to Houston

"Every franchise picking No. 1 overall is hoping that an Andrew Luck-like can't miss quarterback is available to them. Unfortunately for Bill O'Brien and the Texans, there isn't one of that caliber available this year. Taking Clowney, unquestionably the most gifted player in the 2014 draft, and pairing him with J.J. Watt gives Houston the best opportunity to win right away."

Projection of DraftCountdown.com's Scott Wright: Number two overall to Atlanta (via trade)

"Projecting trades in mock drafts is a risky business and something that should probably be avoided but the odds of St. Louis actually staying in this spot seem to be pretty low. After all Rams General Manager Les Snead has moved down in the first round every year that he's been at the helm and they've already let everyone know that they are willing to listen to offers again. Atlanta seems to be the most likely partner since they need a pass rusher and have a history of being aggressive on Draft day. Plus Snead is a former protégé of Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff and that close relationship could help facilitate to deal. Most feel Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina is the best defensive end prospect to come along since Julius Peppers in 2002 and some even go as far back as Bruce Smith in 1985. A freakish physical specimen with an eye-popping blend of size, speed, and athleticism, Clowney has the potential to be a true impact player and difference-maker at the next level."

Wright's other picks: UCF QB Blake Bortles to Houston at number one.


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