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No. 1 Pick Not About Case

Forget Case Keenum & Teddy Bridgewater: Hapless Texans show they desperately need Jadeveon Clowney

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Colts push Texans
The Indianapolis Colts didn't completely just shove the Houston Texans aside because of Case Keenum. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Teddy Bridgewater
Who is certain that Teddy Bridgewater is the answer. Courtesy of Cardinals Nation
Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney is a physical force and a surer talent. Courtesy of South Carolina Football
Case Keenum Texans smiling
It seems like a long time since Case Keenum's had reason to smile on a football field. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
DeAndre Hopkins Andre Texans
DeAndre Hopkins still shows flashes of big-play brilliance. But just flashes. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Colts push Texans
Teddy Bridgewater
Clowney
Case Keenum Texans smiling
DeAndre Hopkins Andre Texans
News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

The red welt on Case Keenum's forehead speaks to his afternoon as a human pinata. The Houston Texans get their young quarterback beaten up — and Keenum suddenly cannot move the football.

After a day like this — a 25-3 loss to the hardly superpower Indianapolis Colts, a day in which the snow outside of Lucas Oil Field looks warmer than the Texans offense — it's easy to seize upon quarterback as the position the Texans absolutely must fixate on with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.

Easy and wrong.

For whatever you think of Case Keenum — and it's easy to dismiss him after his worst game as pro — are you 95 percent certain that Teddy Bridgewater is going to change everything for this reeling franchise? Are you convinced that Bridgewater is going to be at least as good as the Colts' Andrew Luck (who really hasn't been as spectacular as the hype makers want you to believe his first two seasons) or Robert Griffin III (who has been unjustly completely downgraded in year two while playing for a dysfunctional franchise)?

 The Texans (2-12) have given up 25 points or more in 10 of their 14 games. They need a defensive intimidator as much as they need a quarterback.  

If you're not sure that Bridgewater is at Luck or RGIII's level, taking him No. 1 would be a colossal mistake.

When you have the No. 1 pick in the entire draft — something that shouldn't happen for another decade at least if the Texans really right the ship under Bob McNair — you must grab a sure impact player, an all-but-certain future star.

Believing Bridgewater instantly transforms the Texans borders on the type of delusional thinking that would get one institutionalized on Homeland. Two NFL draft analysts have already come out and said they don't consider Bridgewater a Top 10 talent, even though the Louisville quarterback is sure to go in the Top 5 of the draft.

Do you really want to reach with the No. 1 overall pick? Especially considering how many other needs these free-falling Texans have.

Luck — who has become extremely inconsistent with Reggie Wayne hurt — looks as comfortable as a 24-year-old playing video games on his couch against the Texans.

That once fearsome Bulls On Parade defense of J.J. Watt and friends sacks Luck once all afternoon. For a whopping one-yard loss. Luck's overall passing yards being so close to Keenum's final numbers (180 to 168) are more about how completely unthreatened the Colts are.

"I thought the defense played really well in the second half," a somber looking Wade Phillips says in his first postgame press conference as the Texans fully empowered interim coach. "But too late."

The Texans (2-12) have given up 25 points or more in 10 of their 14 games. They need a defensive intimidator as much as they need a quarterback. And those players are much surer things in this draft.

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is an undeniable physical force. Freakishly athletic big men excel in the NFL. No matter how "disappointing" some might think their final season in college football has been. Clowney's going to make an impact in the NFL. He tackles with a fury (remember the bowl game against Michigan?) and is used to extreme expectations and high-level coaching.

The only question is whether Clowney is going to be a good player or an all-time player. That's what you want from your No. 1 overall pick.

Watt clearly can't do it alone. He hasn't had a sack since before Thanksgiving. Clowney offers an instant upgrade over Antonio Smith, a good player whose time has probably come to an end in Houston.

Case Keenum's Replacement?

If the Texans decide they still want a quarterback who can push aside Keenum after the final two games of this season, there will be plenty of chances to grab one a little later in the draft. Touchdown machine Nick Foles was plucked in the third round by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cincinnati Bengals found Andy Dalton early in the second round.

This is when you must trust Texans general manager Rick Smith's ability to uncover talent. There is no need to rush on a quarterback.

No matter how much everyone wants to pile on Keenum at the moment. Including Keenum himself.

 If you're not sure that Bridgewater is at Luck or RGIII's level, taking him No. 1 would be a colossal mistake. 

"I just didn't execute," Keenum says in his postgame podium moment. Later, Keenum completely blames himself for the Robert Mathis' strip sack safety. He tries to exonerate the entire offensive line for the battering he takes.

If you think this is a completely fair test for Case Keenum — trying to win with no Arian Foster, no Owen Daniels, no Garrett Graham and little consistent coaching (why was the Pistol formation buried so long?) — you are about as reasonable as Tom Brady after a loss. But undrafted quarterbacks aren't guaranteed fair chances.

They have to grab what they get. No one is more aware of this than Keenum.

He manages to hit rookie receiver DeAndre Hopkins for a 38-yard pass in the fourth quarter and tight end Ryan Griffin for a 22-yarder on this Sunday, but otherwise it's all short stuff. All struggle. Then again, Andrew Luck's lone long play in the passing game is a well-thrown 41-yarder to T.Y. Hilton.

When you're on the team that's lost both 12 straight overall and 12 straight in Indianapolis, everything tends to look even worse than it already clearly is. When you're the team that ran away with a division just by reaching eight wins, everything tends to look a little better than it really is.

"I thought we could compete with them," Phillips says. "We didn't do a very good job of that."

Yes, the Colts beat up on Case Keenum. Yes, Peyton Manning looms next week in what figures to be another Reliant Stadium clinic administered by No. 18.

But none of that is an excuse for making a panicked, irrational decision with the No. 1 pick in the draft.

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