Four directions the Texans can go with the No. 1 pick
The Position Need / The Favorite: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Most mock drafts you see at this point will show Bridgewater going to the Texans with the first pick. He is widely considered the best quarterback in this draft class, and the Texans have a gaping hole at the quarterback position. They can save $4 million by cutting Matt Schaub, and Case Keenum couldn't win a game in eight tries this season. New head coach Bill O'Brien is an aggressive, offensive-minded guy who heavily values a strong signal caller, and he has been lauded for his work with quarterbacks in the past. There is no doubt that O'Brien would love to pick the best quarterback prospect in the draft and begin his NFL head coaching career with a promising, talented youngster at the most important position on his team.
The Best Player Available: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Sometimes when you have a high first-round draft pick, you simply have to go with the best player on the board. The Minnesota Vikings took Adrian Peterson back in 2007 despite having bigger needs (running back Chester Taylor averaged over 100 total yards per game for the Vikings in 2006), and I think they are pretty happy with their decision. Just about all of the draft analysts out there will tell you that Clowney is the best prospect in this draft class, and his stock will probably shoot up even higher if he participates in the combine. Drafting Clowney to rush the passer opposite of 24-year-old J.J. Watt could eventually give the Texans one of the best pass rusher duos of all time. It's worth noting, however, that the Texans have run a 3-4 defense in each of the past three seasons, and Clowney is best suited for a 4-3 scheme. It is not yet clear what type of defense O'Brien will run, and it may not be known until he names a defensive coordinator.
The Safe Sleeper: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
The Kansas City Chiefs were faced with a number of options at No. 1 overall last year, and they eventually figured that you can't go wrong drafting a potential cornerstone for the offensive line. Who knows, the Texans may end up thinking the same way. Matthews is considered by many to be the safest pick in the draft, and the Texans - for the first time in years - struggled to block in 2013, particularly when passing. The team may not want to take a quarterback and have him constantly be under fire to start his NFL career. Duane Brown is a fine left tackle and had another strong season after being named All-Pro in 2012, but Derek Newton was a mess at right tackle. The Texans have to address right tackle at some point this offseason, and they could do it with the first pick in the draft.
The Wild Card: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
Remember that last year the Kansas City Chiefs were rumored to be considering Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, and that if they went with an offensive lineman, Joeckel was a lock to be the one they selected. Eric Fisher ended up shooting up draft boards as the pre-draft process went on, and he was ultimately the first overall pick. This year could be similar, with pass rusher playing the role of offensive tackle, Jadeveon Clowney playing the role of Joeckel, and Barr playing the role of Fisher. Barr's stock has skyrocketed during the 2013 season, and his upside (as well as Clowney's questionable effort level this season) could be what gets the Texans to take him. What would also come in to play is that Barr is better suited for a 3-4 scheme than Clowney. If the Texans stick with the 3-4, Barr could be the pick. I would not expect Barr to be drafted over Clowney, but you never know what could happen between now and draft day.
While Bridgewater looks like the favorite to be drafted first overall, the Texans do have options, and it would not be surprising to see other possible No. 1 picks emerge as the draft grows closer.