Jadeveon Clowney could start out as an outside linebacker, according to general manager and executive vice president Rick Smith. Selected first overall in Thursday's draft, Clowney is expected to be an immediate contributor to the Texans defense.
"I fully expect that he will be an outside linebacker initially," Smith said in a press conference Thursday night. "He'll start in a two-point stance, but anytime we go into any kind of package, whether it's a third down package or a packaged predicated on personnel, down and distance, all those things give Romeo (Crennel) the ability to have him put his hand in the dirt and go get the passer."
At his April Pro Day, Clowney ran through a series of drills for defensive linemen. Towards the end of his workout, Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel put Clowney through drills designed for linebackers and appeared pleased with what he saw.
"When you talk about a creative mind like Romeo and some of the things he's done, when you look at his defenses historically and how he utilizes personnel, it really gives us an opportunity to get after the quarterback," Smith said.
Clowney's athleticm and speed offer the Texans versatility as does playing alongside leaders like J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing. The former South Carolina defensive end could be used to either drop back in coverage or rush the passer, according to Smith.
"He's athletic enough to do all that stuff," Smith said. "The thing that they have to do also is set the edge in the run game. He is certainly capable and athletic and strong enough to do that and set the edge in the run game. Obviously his pass rushing ability speaks for itself."
A look at the Texans No. 1 selection, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Texans lost two of their three starters on the defensive line in free agency this offseason, Antonio Smith and Earl Mitchell.