Texans take Clowney with No. 1 pick

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Texans take Clowney with No. 1 pick
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Jadeveon Clowney of the South Carolina Gamecocks stands on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was picked #1 overall by the Houston Texansduring the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Jadeveon Clowney of the South Carolina Gamecocks is introduced during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney arrives for the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft with his mother Josenna Clowney, Thursday, May 8, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Khalil Mack (L) of the Buffalo Bulls and Johnny Manziel of the Texas A&M Aggies are introduced during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Johnny Manziel of the Texas A&M Aggies is introduced during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel reacts after being selected by the Cleveland Browns as the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Thursday, May 8, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Johnny Manziel of the Texas A&M Aggies poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was picked #22 overall by the Cleveland Browns during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Johnny Manziel of the Texas A&M Aggies poses with a jersey after he was picked #22 overall by the Cleveland Browns during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Johnny Manziel is seen leaving the stage after being selected by the Cleveland Browns at the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City on Thursday, May 8th, 2014 in New York, NY. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell looks on prior to the start of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Greg Robinson of the Auburn Tigers poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was picked #2 overall by the during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Blake Bortles of the UCF Knights poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was picked #3 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Sammy Watkins of the Clemson Tigers poses with a jersey after he was picked #4 overall by the Buffalo Bills during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Khalil Mack of the Buffalo Bulls poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was picked #5 overall by the Oakland Raiders during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Jake Matthews of the Texas A&M Aggies poses with a jersey after he was picked #6 overall by the Atlanta Falcons during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Mike Evans of the Texas A&M Aggies poses with a jersey after he was picked #7 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Justin Gilbert of the Oklahoma State Cowboys poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was picked #8 overall by the Cleveland Browns during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Eric Ebron of the North Carolina Tar Heels poses with former Detroit Lion Barry Sanders (L) and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (R) after he was picked #10 overall by the Detroit Lions during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Ohio State outside linebacker Ryan Shazier hugs NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 15th pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Thursday, May 8, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08: Teddy Bridgewater of the Louisville Cardinals poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was picked #32 overall by the Minnesota Vikings during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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BY BARRY WILNER
AP PRO FOOTBALL WRITER

NEW YORK (AP) -- For nearly three years, Jadeveon Clowney couldn't wait to get to the NFL, and the league was just as eager to add the player some called the best defensive prospect in a decade.

No surprise: Clowney is the Texans' man.

But Thursday's first pick of the 2014 NFL draft didn't come without some intrigue about how it would all turn out. There had been criticism of Clowney's work ethic last season and questions about whether the Texans would hold or trade the No. 1 slot.

"I just been proving a lot of people wrong throughout my life," Clowney said. "Growing up, I grew up hard. I always said I'm going to do something great. Hopefully, I'm going to be a Hall of Famer one day."

Houston will take that.
Todd McShay on Clowney To The Texans



This draft's other big name, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, sat with a sullen look on his face until Cleveland made its third trade of the round and grabbed the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner at No. 22. To rousing cheers and chants of "Johnny, Johnny," Manziel smiled widely as he walked onto the Radio City Music Hall stage.

Manziel's wait added plenty of suspense nearly three hours after the Texans took their time selecting Clowney. Rarely does a team not reveal the top overall choice until it is announced, and there was wide speculation the Texans had soured on the defensive end, whose junior season at South Carolina was accompanied by criticism he played it safe to stay healthy for the pros.

After Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the pick, fans filling Radio City Music Hall to capacity applauded Clowney as he held up his index finger, his eyes moist, a relieved look on his face. Just like the 30 prospects on hand, the fans were extra eager to see who would wind up where after the draft was pushed back from late April because the theater was unavailable.

"It's been a long time. It just kicked in at the end there, man, I've been drafted," he said.

Clowney, 21, brings size, speed and power to a lineup that already has 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. His diligence had been questioned after he slipped from 13 sacks to just three in 2013. Critics said he was protecting himself from injury in his junior year before declaring early for the draft.

He is the first defensive player taken first overall since Houston selected another end, Mario Williams, in 2006. Williams now is with Buffalo. Houston also made the top pick in its first season, 2002, taking quarterback David Carr. He never lived up to that billing; the Texans hope Clowney has more of an impact.

Tackle Greg Robinson, whose blocking helped high-powered Auburn make the national championship game last season, went second to St. Louis. The Rams owned the pick as the final payment for a 2012 trade with Washington that allowed the Redskins to draft quarterback Robert Griffin III.

St. Louis is concerned about the health of starting left tackle Jake Long, who is coming off knee surgery.

The first quarterback to go went to Jacksonville in the third slot, but it wasn't Johnny Football. Blake Bortles of Central Florida, whose stock shot up last season and in subsequent workouts. At 6-5, 232, Bortles drew comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger because of his combination of size and mobility. Jacksonville missed the last time it took a QB in the first round, Blaine Gabbert in 2011. The Jaguars gave up on the inconsistent Gabbert, who struggled to read defenses and was benched for journeyman Chad Henne. Gabbert is now a backup in San Francisco.

"He's a down-to-earth guy, a self-made guy, a blue-collar guy and he wants to be the best he can be," said Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell, who added a word of caution: "He just needs a little bit of time."

Seeing a chance to grab playmaking receiver Sammy Watkins of Clemson, Buffalo swapped spots with Cleveland, also sending a first- and fourth-round selection next year to move up from ninth to fourth.

"Dynamic playmaker, and that's what this game is all about," Bills GM Doug Whaley said of Watkins. "He's automatically going to make our quarterback (EJ Manuel) better."

Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews, the son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, went to Atlanta with the sixth overall pick. The Falcons leaked so badly on the offensive line in 2013 as they plummeted from NFC South champion to 4-12 that Matt Ryan was sacked 44 times.

Another Aggies star was chosen next, receiver Mike Evans to Tampa Bay. The 6-4, 231-pound Evans is durable, versatile - and quite emotional. He also couldn't hold back the tears when Goodell called his name.

The crowd thought Manziel might go eighth when Cleveland traded up one spot to get Minnesota's pick. So when the Browns took cornerback Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State, there was a loud groan from the fans. Gilbert smiled wryly as he shook Goodell's hand.

Minnesota grabbed UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Detroit selected North Carolina's Eric Ebron, by far the best tight end in this crop, and Tennessee filled a need on the offensive line with Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan.

Finally, a local team was on the clock and the audience approved lustily when the Giants chose LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham was followed by Pitt DT Aaron Donald to St. Louis, Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller to Chicago, Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier to Pittsburgh, Notre Dame G Zack Martin to Dallas, Alabama LB C.J. Mosley to Baltimore and, as fans chanted "J-E-T-S," Louisville safety Calvin Pryor is New York-bound.

Minnesota finished off the opening round by trading with Seattle to select Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, the third quarterback taken. Bridgewater was an early entrant into the draft, but already had graduated college.

Fourteen underclassmen were chosen, including the first four picks. The SEC led all conferences with 11 players taken.

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