Houston Texans Betting: Jadeveon Clowney drawing Major Criticism

jadeveon-clowney-texansThe Houston Texans were supposed to feature a nightmare pass rush for opposing quarterbacks. First off, they have JJ Watt, a mammoth 6’6″, 290-pound defensive end who’s generally regarded as the NFL’s best overall defensive player. And he was supposed to be backed up by outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who at 6’5″, 266 pounds, runs a blistering 4.53 forty for his size.

Unfortunately, Clowney has had no impact on the Houston Texans team this year. He’s missed six games due to a knee injury and had just one tackle in his return against Tennessee last week. This past Sunday he missed a game against the Eagles due to illness and caused some controversy when he may have liked a picture on Instagram during the contest.

Missing yet another game combined with the Instagram fiasco has now brought more heat from around the league. Nobody was more critical than Warren Sapp and LaDainian Tomlinson on Monday’s episode of Total Access Pregame. “We expect to see you on Sunday afternoon young man,” Sapp said. “Football is a great game in America and we all gather around to see the best of the best for 60 minutes each Sunday. And you’re disappointing us, and you’re wearing out your coaches and everybody down in Houston.”

NFL: 2014 NFLPA Rookie PremiereTomlinson believes that Clowney’s $22.3 million contract could be a huge source behind his lack of focus. “That’s a character flaw to me,” he said. “One thing we always try to preach about young athletes is giving them too much early, that’s what happens. They don’t want to work for it anymore.”

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport was also critical of Clowney on NFL GameDay Morning. “What they want is for him to start showing some maturity and learn to play through these some of these ailments,” said Rapoport. “As a source just mentioned to me, this is really the first time Clowney has faced any sort of injury adversity – didn’t really happen in college – and they want him to try to play through it in the NFL, but they’re frustrated with their No. 1 overall pick.”

As for the guy who matters most, Texans coach Bill O’Brien, he didn’t seem overly willing to talk about the situation. In fact, he indicated that the whole Instagram matter wasn’t even worth discussing after stating the following:

Yeah, he and I, like, we tweeted back and forth (Sunday) night. I went on Spacebook. He went on Twitter. … I mean, come – I don’t know, I don’t. You know? This guy wants to play football. He’s trying to get better to get back on the field. I’m not going down this Twitter road. I don’t even know what that is really, to be honest with you,” he went on. “Instagram: My kid was trying to talk to me about it last night. Like, ‘This is what Instagram is Daddy.’ I don’t know. We’re moving on from that. We’re moving on.

The Texans slide into their bye week with a 4-5 record and a falling chance of making the postseason. They are losers of 4 of their past 5 games and travel to face the 5-4 Cleveland Browns this Sunday. Contests against Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Baltimore loom ahead over the next two months. So they’re going to need everybody to step up, including Clowney. He’s now over the knee injury that sidelined him for six games and he has almost half a season to make an impact. But that’s not going to happen if he continues missing action with illnesses and worrying more about Instagram than learning from the games.

Don’t expect Raiders to pass on a Good Quarterback

teddy-bridgewater-louisvilleOnce again, the Oakland Raiders are coming off a very disappointing season where they finished 4-12 and were nowhere near the playoff picture. And once again, they have the opportunity to land a high draft pick who could make a huge impact on the struggling franchise.

The Raiders pick fifth in the 2014 NFL Draft and their immediate focus appears to be on a quarterback. Head coach Dennis Allen indicated this by saying that QB is “a position we’ve obviously got to look at.”

The word “obviously” definitely fits here because Oakland’s returning quarterbacks, Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin, don’t yet seem capable of leading a team to success. Pryor initially caused a spark after beating out Matt Flynn for the starting job in training camp. He rushed for 162 yards in the first two games of the 2013 season and led Oakland to a 1-1 record. Pryor was knocked out of the third game with a concussion and never developed any passing rhythm after coming back.

Pryor’s Week 9 MCL sprain gave undrafted rookie Matt McGloin an opportunity to start. Although he proved to be a better pure pocket passer with 1,547 yards, 8 TD’s and 8 INT’s, McGloin only led the Raiders to one win in his seven appearances.

Given their options, Oakland could definitely grab a more heralded signal caller. And the 2014 Draft class has a number of strong QB prospects, with Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles leading the way.

The only problem is that there are three other teams with pressing quarterback needs themselves. The Houston Texans, Jacksvonille Jaguars and Cleveland Browns all pick ahead of Oakland and could take a QB. Houston might go quarterback or defense, while experts definitely expect Jacksonville and Cleveland to go QB.

But this certainly hasn’t stopped Oakland from spending countless hours looking at game footage of passers. After watching the tape, Manziel is one prospect who really sticks out in Allen’s mind as he said:

He’s accomplished a lot at the collegiate level he’s been a very good football player being the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy speaks for itself. I think he’s a very talented football player, he’s a multidimensional football player. He’s able to throw the ball from the pocket and do things with his feet. As we get more into the evaluation process he’ll be a fun one to look at.

Once again, though, Oakland needs to prepare for a scenario in which they don’t get Manziel or the other two top signal callers. There are plenty of other potential stars in the draft, including South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Auburn left tackle terrelle-pryor-raidersGreg Robinson. Plus, the team doesn’t sound like they’re entirely down on the returning quarterbacks. “One of those things we have to determine,” said Allen with regard to who’ll start next year. “We’re going to look at that position very closely. In my opinion we’ve got two young quarterbacks with potential.”

However, Allen played devil’s advocate by saying, “I don’t know the answer to that yet. The quarterback position is the backbone of your football team. We’ve got to make sure that when we go out there this year, we put ourselves in the best position to have success with the quarterback position.”

Assuming Oakland really feels some urgency in this draft, they might consider trading up into one of the top three positions. But is it worth sacrificing other draft picks to move up for one player when you’re a team that needs so much? Maybe so, when you consider the large amount of quarterback failures that Oakland has experienced over the past several years.

Blake Bortles: Top Pick in 2014 NFL Draft?

blake-bortles-top-draft-pickSeveral months ago, it was thought that either Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater or South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney were going to be the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. However, other players like Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews and his teammate, QB Johnny Manziel, have also been discussed as the potential top overall pick. Now, you can add Central Florida QB Blake Bortles to the list of potential number one’s as well.

Bortles has always been considered a high pick in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. But it wasn’t until new Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien talked highly of him that Bortles has suddenly leapt up the mock draft charts. “Blake is a good-sized guy. He’s an athletic guy for his size. He’s an accurate passer,” O’Brien said. “The guys who coached him at Central Florida think highly of him as a young man who really studies the game. He works hard at the game.”

If it seems like O’Brien is especially high on Bortles, he’s because he got to see the young signal caller up close and personal. The 6’4″ QB led Central Florida over O’Brien’s Penn State team by a score of 34-31. Bortles had 288 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in that contest.

blake-bortles-top-draft-pick-1Aside from seeing him play, O’Brien also had a connection to Bortles through UCF coach George O’Leary. The former Penn State coach worked under O’Leary for eight seasons at Georgia Tech. So he should get a very accurate and favorable scouting report from O’Leary.

Another factor that goes in Bortles’ favor is the fact that he’s a prototypical pocket passer, something which neither Bridgewater nor Manziel are. Given that O’Brien’s college offense centered around a pocket passer, he’s likely to look for the same when he’s running the Texans next season.

Of course, we can’t quite rule out Jadeveon Clowney, despite him not living up to the sky-high expectations placed on him this past college football season. However, there’s no denying Clowney’s talent, which was easily evident in a sophomore year where he racked up 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for losses. Add in the fact that Houston owner Bob McNair said his team is open to taking a defensive player first, and this is a likely possibility.

Provided the Texans take Clowney, the Rams would likely take another position other than quarterback, seeing as how they have Sam Bradford already. This would leave the Jacksonville Jaguars (third), Cleveland Browns (fourth) and Oakland Raiders (fifth) left to scoop Bortles, Bridgewater and Manziel. All three of these teams desperately want a QB of the future, and they could find it this year.

With so much uncertainty at the top of the 2014 NFL Draft, it’ll definitely be exciting to see who goes where. Whatever happens, though, hopefully none of the top picks end up on the list of biggest NFL Draft busts.

Should the Texans really trade the Number One Pick?

teddy-bridgewater-louisvilleNothing in the NFL news will overshadow the Wild Card games this weekend. Nevertheless, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair did manage to steal a headline or two when he declared that Houston is open to trading the top overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. “Maybe we’ll trade down and still get a quarterback that can do the job and get an outstanding defensive player,” McNair said. “It’s an exciting time. Everything’s a moving target. Lot of different pieces.”

When you lose 14 games in a row like the Texans did, you should be open to anything. But is this a draft where Houston really wants to trade the top selection away for more picks? After all, many consider this draft to be pretty rich in quarterbacks, and if anybody needs an outstanding signal caller, it is the Texans. But on the other hand, maybe McNair is saying this because they haven’t fallen in love with any players.

With Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater officially declaring for the draft, many see him as the best quarterback prospect available. Several months ago, it was considered a two-man battle between Bridgewater and South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney for who’d be the number one overall pick in 2014. However, Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews has since shot up the board and is also in contention for the top selection. This being said, is it worth holding on to the number one overall pick for Houston?

johnny-manzielThis is an especially pertinent question when you consider that other worthy quarterbacks like A&M’s Johnny Manziel, UCF’s Blake Bortles, and Fresno State’s Derek Carr all warrant high first-round consideration. Okay, so you can probably thrown Derek Carr out of the mix because his older brother, David, didn’t exactly pan out as Houston’s inaugural draft pick.

Chances are, though, the Texans are taking a quarterback at some point in the first round, whether they trade down for a lower pick or keep the number one selection. They’ve got Matt Schaub and Case Keenum on the roster right now. Schaub is looked at as an aging has-been who contributed to Houston’s downfall with all of his pick-sixes. Keenum showed some flashes of brilliance, but he never clearly locked down the starting QB role when given a chance.

Of course, there’s always the potential curveball, where Houston could take a defensive player or offensive tackle like Matthews. Texans general manager Rick Smith alluded to this with the following statement:

I don’t think you take a particular position just because you need a particular position at any point in the draft, especially the first pick. So we’ll rank it, we’ll value it, and we’ll make good choices if the opportunity presents itself to move back because it is a very valuable pick, and we’ll entertain those as well.

Looking at Houston’s history, it may not be so crazy to go defense with the top overall choice. In 2007, they made the controversial decision to select DE Mario Williams over the more-electrifying and popular pick, Reggie Bush. And while Bush has had his share of NFL success, it is Williams whom many think boasts the better career. Taking this into consideration, Clowney, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack can’t be left out of the number-one-overall discussion either.

Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that McNair has already created some NFL Draft excitement months in advance of the big day.

Why did the Cleveland Browns trade Trent Richardson?

trent-richardsonYesterday the Cleveland Browns pulled off the biggest trade of the 2013 NFL season when they sent Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Following this transaction, Ahmad Bradshaw fantasy owners cringed, casual league fans were puzzled, and Browns fans were like “What the f**k!?”

After all, Richardson was the third overall pick of the 2012 Draft, an every-down back, and somebody who was generally expected to be a franchise player. So why did the Cleveland Browns trade their most precious commodity? Especially when the Colts’ top pick only projects to be a middle-first rounder?

Well the simple answer is that they’re trying to tank the season following an 0-2 start. So why not get rid of their injury-plagued running back while they still can and stockpile another first-round pick in the process.

Basically, the Browns found the perfect taker for Richardson because Indianapolis is desperate to solve their running back situation and make the playoffs for a second consecutive year. They thought that Bradshaw could be this guy when they signed him to a one-year deal in the offseason, or at least a combination of him and Vick Ballard.

trent-richardsonBut Ballard exited in the first week with a season-ending knee injury while Bradshaw has been nothing more than steady with 91 rushing yards, 26 receiving yards and a touchdown (in 2 games). Plus, given his constant foot injuries, the Colts felt that adding a potential star player like Richardson could boost their postseason chances in a crowded AFC East division.

And make no mistake about it, Richardson is a top-notch talent who’s capable of great things. In his rookie season with Cleveland, the Alabama product rushed for 950 yards, added 367 receiving yards, and scored 12 TD’s, despite playing through injuries. So just imagine what he could do on a team where opposing defenses need to worry about the pass.

Unfortunately, this team wasn’t the Browns and opponents were stacking the box with seven and eight defenders on every play, just daring Brandon Weeden to throw. The way Cleveland sees it, why keep running Richardson into a brick wall this season while losing games when he’s got major trade value.

Let’s face it…the Weeden experiment has failed after 18 games, the offensive line is still bad, and there are no huge play-making threats on this club. These are all things that management feared going into the 2013 season, but there was also a glimmer of hope if Weeden could’ve developed.

teddy-bridgewater-draftThat hope is gone, and now, like 50% of the league, Cleveland is trying to find a reliable quarterback. With an extra first-rounder, they now have the chance to trade up for Teddy Bridgewater, if the Jacksonville Jaguars (who are definitely going to finish dead last) feel like making a deal. If this doesn’t work out, Cleveland is likely to finish with the league’s second worst record, which would probably land them UCLA QB Brett Hundley.

Some say South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in the most talented player in the draft. However, it’s unlikely that the Browns would pass up the chance at getting a signal caller in a class that’s loaded with QB talent.

But for now, Cleveland will pretend to focus on this season by bringing veteran Willis McGahee into the fold and trying to win a game or two. But as the Richardson trade indicates, they are really only thinking about 2014 and beyond.