I had never given much thought to the possibility that Khalil Mack could be taken number one overall in the NFL draft, given the Texans' needs at Quarterback. But, after reading an article on FanSided that cited rumors that Mack is a dark horse candidate to be taken number one in this May's draft, I asked myself: "Could this really happen?"
I'm sure every UB fan, including myself, would love to see Mack taken with the first pick, but is there any merit to any of the rumors? There are good points on both sides of the argument on whether or not Mack should be taken with the first pick. So lets break down a few key points on why he will or won't be taken number one overall.
Reasons He Will Be Taken #1:
- The Texans' Need at OLB: While taking Jadeveon Clowney number one may be enticing and creating what may possibly be the scariest defensive line in all of football, the Texans would be better served by getting better pass rush from it's outside linebackers. After letting Connor Barwin walk in free agency after a poor 2012 campaign, the Texans turned to Whitney Mercilus and Brooks Reed who produced 7 and 3 sacks, respectively. Reed has been a disappointment and he doesn't have the burst off the line of scrimmage or the athleticism to be an elite defender at the OLB position. Mack has the elite athleticism and quick first step the Reed lacks. Instead of putting Clowney on the opposite side of JJ Watt, the Texans would be better served putting Mack behind Watt and creating a fearsome pass rushing duo that offensive lines could only hope to contain.
- Quarterback Prospect Uncertainty: Several of the quarterback prospects aren't seen as the clear cut number one overall pick. Scouts have reservations about Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, and Blake Bortles, and I'm pretty sure Texans fans will start having nightmares if a Quarterback named Carr is leading their team again. So, instead of taking a risk an a QB that may not pan out, why not take a sure-fire defensive prospect like Khalil Mack? Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com seems to think Mack is the surest thing in the 2014 Draft and I think so too.
Reasons He Won't Be Taken #1:
- The Importance of the QB: The NFL is a quarterback driven league, that's a fact. And if your team doesn't have a solid starting quarterback your team is going to flounder, just as the Texans found out after Matt Schaub regressed and was replaced by undrafted free agent Case Keenum. Quarterback is a position of high value, and players are often over drafted. No matter what defensive needs the Texans have, they need a quarterback first.
- Statistics: Of the last 10 number one overall picks, 7 were quarterbacks, 2 were offensive linemen, and only 1 was a defensive player, those stats alone don't bode well for Mack going number one. Also, the MAC has only produced one number one overall pick, and that was Central Michigan's Eric Fisher in last year's draft. Could the MAC produce back to back #1 picks? Statistics says most likely not.
- The Clowney Conundrum: There is only one defensive player ranked higher than Khalil Mack on most draft big boards, and that is Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney is an absolute athletic freak with his rare combination of size, speed and strength that hasn't been seen since Mario Williams was drafted in 2006. Make no mistake, Mack is an elite talent and will be drafted in the top 5 or 6 picks, but Clowney is a once-in-a-decade talent that most teams covet more than Mack because of the conference that Clowney plays in and the exposure that he has received.
With all of the above points being considered, I don't think that Mack will be taken number one. That is not at all an indictment of Mack's ability, but the importance of the quarterback position is just too great for a defensive player to be taken number one overall. The Texans have a solid defense and a great pass rusher like Mack would be a nice luxury, but the Texans don't have the luxury of being able to take Mack with such a pressing need at the quarterback postion.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for my next Mock Draft which should be coming out soon...