No surprises: Clowney taken 1st by TexansHouston hopes the South Carolina Gamecock will improve their defense
After two extra weeks of intrigue, Houston opened the NFL draft Thursday night by taking South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Rarely does a team not reveal the top overall choice until it is announced, and there was wide speculation the Texans had soured on Clowney, whose work ethic has been questioned.
Obviously, the Texans were convinced that a player considered a budding NFL star even when he was a freshman was the right guy for them.
After Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the pick, fans who filled Radio City Music Hall to capacity applauded Clowney as he held up his index finger, his eyes moist, a relieved look on his face. Just like the 30 prospects on hand, the fans were extra eager to see who would wind up where after the draft was pushed back from late April because the theater was unavailable.
Clowney, 21, brings size, speed and power to a lineup that already has 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. His diligence had been questioned after he slipped from 13 sacks to just three in 2013. Critics said he was protecting himself from injury in his junior year before declaring early for the draft.
Clowney is the first defensive player taken first overall since Houston selected another end, Mario Williams, in 2006. Williams now is with Buffalo.
Houston also made the top pick in its first season, 2002, taking quarterback David Carr. He never lived up to that billing; the Texans hope Clowney has more of an impact.