Eight years ago, the Houston Texans gambled on NC State defensive end Mario Williams over USC's heralded Reggie Bush. It was perceived as a monumental mistake, but ultimately it was the right pick. Running backs have become disposable goods as quarterbacks have begun slinging the ball up and down the tarmac turf while disruptive pass rushers have simultaneously risen in value.
It just so happens that South Carolina defensive end is the most highly-touted pass rushing prospect our generation despite an extremely turbulent final season at South Carolina. The idea of JJ Watt and Clowney chasing quarterbacks is nirvana for Texan fans. However, Texans general manager Rick Smith disagrees. Accoridng to a source who has spoken with Smith, unsung Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack is more likely to be the first name called on May 8.
This rumor has been dismissed as a smokescreen, but I'm not so sure. The Texans 3-4 scheme fits Mack as a potential 3-4 outside linebacker, while Clowney projects as a 4-3 defensive end. Besides Clowney is more of a speed edge rusher while 3-4 ends are more brolic, physical types that play closer to the center of the offensive line. While he'd play outside linebacker, his capacity for playing the run is still up in the air. There's not a single prospect in this draft who is as physically gifted as Clowney, but as coaches love to say, the game is 90 percent mental and Mack has the complete package to become a defensive cornerstone in the Texans system while questions are still abound about Clowney's technique and football IQ.