For the fifth time since 2004, a player from the SEC was drafted number one overall in the NFL Draft. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was drafted with the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans Thursday night in New York City. Clowney is the first defensive player to be drafted with the top pick in the draft since the Texans drafted Mario Williams out of NC State in the 2006 draft.
Clowney will be a great addition to the Texans, a franchise in need of getting tougher on defense but not one with a tremendous amount of ground to make up in the AFC South. New head coach Bill O’Brien, who coached Penn State the past two seasons, may still be searching for his franchise quarterback but he may be able to pick up a nice option in the second round. Having Clowney though makes Houston a more difficult team to guard against with J.J. Watt already demanding attention from opposing offensive lines. With Watt one one side and Clowney likely on the other, Houston could have a tenacious defensive line.
Clowney is the second number one overall draft pick in South Carolina history. He joins running back George Rogers, who was drafted first overall by the New Orleans Saints in the 1981 NFL Draft. Since 2004 the SEC has now had five number one overall picks in the draft, but the rest have been quarterbacks. Eli Manning (Ole Miss) was drafted by San Diego in 2004 before being traded away to the New York Giants. LSU’s JaMarcuss Russell was drafted by Oakland in 2007, Georgia’s Matt Stafford was drafted by Detroit in 2009 and Cam Newton was taken by Carolina in 2011.
Auburn linebacker Audray Bruce was the last defensive player from the SEC to be drafted number one overall, going to the Atlanta Falcons in the 1988 NFL Draft.