NFL Draft 2014: Why Jadeveon Clowney Should Be a Lock for No. 1 Pick

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NFL Draft 2014: Why Jadeveon Clowney Should Be a Lock for No. 1 Pick
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If the Seattle Seahawks proved anything this weekend, it's that a dominant defense still trumps a potent offense.

After making the playoffs in 2013 and boasting one of the league's top defenses, the Houston Texans severely regressed this season on both sides of the ball. According to NFL.com, their defense ranked 25th in points allowed and 23rd in rushing yards allowed, and despite fielding Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, their offense ranked 31st in the league with 17.2 points per game.

The Texans need a supreme defensive talent to restore this defense to its dominance.

The remedy: University of South Carolina product Jadeveon Clowney.

In short, Houston needs help in all facets.

They need a quarterback who can avoid the dreaded pick-six. They need a running back to replace Ben Tate, who is likely on his way out the door. They need a wide receiver who can complement the aging Johnson. They need a linebacker who can contain a running game.

Most of all, they need Clowney.

While all the hype surrounding him didn't match his on-field production, Clowney is regarded as the best player available. According to Bleacher Report featured columnist Ryan Riddle, Clowney may be the "rarest prospect" in this draft class. 

If not for the overwhelming need of a franchise quarterback for three of the top four picks, Clowney would likely be the undisputed No. 1 overall pick. His talents have invited comparisons to Julius Peppers and other dominant defensive stalwarts and, lined up opposite of J.J. Watt and in front of Brian Cushing, the Texans could boast one of the most potent pass rushes in the game of football.

Despite his lack of sacks in 2013, Clowney has a strong track record as a disruptive force as a defensive end. He is explosive and quick and is an instinctive defender who can stop a play before it develops. Heading into college, Clowney was a 5-star recruit and a consensus No. 1 overall player in the 2011 recruiting class.

Now entering the professional ranks, the Coaches' 2012 SEC Defensive Player of the Year should be the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft as well.

Much of the talk surrounding the Texans' top selection likely centers around the mindset of new coach Bill O'Brien.

O'Brien, who coached the Patriots before taking over at Penn State in 2012, is known for his ability to develop quarterbacks. He coaxed an 11-win season out of Matt Cassell in the absence of Tom Brady and made walk-on Matt McGloin an impressive prospect while at Penn State.

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While veteran Matt Schaub endured the worst season of his professional career, the Texans passing game struggled mightily. Behind Schaub and Case Keenum, the Texans ranked 22nd in completion percentage and 25th in touchdown passes on their way to a 2-14 record.

Clearly Schaub had his struggles, but this is not an incapable quarterback.

Schaub has been a quality starter since joining Houston in 2007 and has thrown for over 4,000 yards and passed for better than 20 touchdowns in three out of the last five seasons. He is a two-time Pro Bowler who owns a career passer rating of 89.2 with 130 total touchdowns.

At his best, Schaub is capable of rebounding next season and leading the Texans back to the playoffs.

At his worst, Schaub is a formidable stopgap who can allow O'Brien to use his touch on a second-round selection such as Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo.

Either way, the long-term success of the Texans may be better served by going to the podium on May 8 and selecting Jadeveon Clowney as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

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