I do a couple hours of radio each week with John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, who is about as dialed in as any beat reporter is for their local NFL team.
McClain is highly informed and not afraid to openly discuss what he knows, and his on-air and in-writing speculation of late have said that the Texans will take either South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney or Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Clowney and Manziel obviously are two very different players serving very different needs, and both (like every player in this draft) have their warts, but I think it's hard to find anybody who thinks the Texans' draft would be a failure at the top by picking one of these two.
Well, we found someone who thinks that. Say hello to ESPN's Merril Hoge, kids.
Hoge is a former running back with the Pittsburgh Steelers from back in the 80's and a longtime second tier NFL analyst at the Worldwide Leader. He is best known for surviving multiple concussions during his NFL career and surviving cancer after his career was over. Hoge is, without a doubt, kind of a bad ass.
So with that said, I'm not looking to pick a fight with Merril Hoge. My mother taught me better than that. I do want to know why he so doubts the talents of Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney, because if McClain is correct, and the Texans are ready to call one of these two names with the first overall pick, then Merril Hoge should go ahead right now and get his prediction of a 2-14 repeat out of the way.
Here was Hoge on Manziel a month or so ago:
Here is the summary of that video:
He has absolutely no instinct or feel for pocket awareness. He has an instinct to run. That's a bad instinct if you're going to have that in the National Football League," Hoge said on "SportsCenter" on Wednesday. "You have to play in the pocket with traffic around you and throw it. When traffic comes around him, he runs, and that's dangerous in the National Football League. His skill set does not transition to the National Football League, and it is a big, big risk. In fact, I see bust written all over him, especially if he's drafted in the first round.
That blockquoted summary doesn't include all of the various quarterback traits on which Hoge gave Manziel a score of "1" on a scale of 1 to 10, and doesn't include his overall grade where he said if he had a compensatory pick in the fifth or sixth round, that's where he'd take Manziel.
Yikes, right? Well, thank God we have Clowney to fall back on, right?
Hoge hates Clowney. Not as much as he hates Manziel, but still...here's what Hoge had to say about the defensive end:
When you're talking about a fundamental football player, like with his feet, hips, and hands, [Clowney] is actually atrocious. Clowney, as a football player, is not very good. Amazing athlete...not a very good football player. Pad level is very high, doesn't play with his feet, hips, and hands like Khalil Mack does.
Hoge went on to gush about Khalil Mack from Buffalo (who I happen to like also), but I think it's fair to ask, "Holy hell, Hoge, you're the only one absolutely destroying both Clowney and Manziel...do you like anything?? Anything in LIFE???"
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So I texted Hoge and asked him about other known great or potentially great things in life, and here's what he had to say **:
ME: So what did you think of The Sopranos?
HOGE: I tell you what, when you're talking about a television show, and everything that comes with it -- dialogue, actors, character development -- I think The Sopranos is one of the most overrated shows of all time. Did you see how much violence there was? A lot of bloodshed. Also, the fake New Jersey accents on a couple of the supporting actors in Season 3 ruined the whole series for me. Definitely, DEFINITELY, not as good a show as Two Broke Girls. Let me be very clear...
ME: Ok, what are your thoughts on ice cream? Everybody loves ice cream!
HOGE: Whoa, slow down, not EVERYBODY. When I look at ice cream, I see a food that has a total lack of endurance. I mean, if you don't finish it in the first six or seven minutes, a lot of times you're left with a big bowl of pasty goop. And God forbid, any of it drip onto your hands, you know how sticky that can get? Ice cream to me, guys, is one of the worst foods to come along maybe in the last century. I strongly feel this way....
ME: Why did you call me "guys"?
ME: Never mind. Ok, what about sex? Even bad sex is still pretty good, right?
HOGE: Wrong, because ALL sex is bad sex. You know how much effort it takes to have sex? All the hip movement and the sweating, and then the fatigue afterwards? I mean, who has time for all that? These Clowney and Manziel draft evaluations aren't gonna flunk themselves! Sex, to me, guys, if I had a compensatory 15 minutes or so on a holiday weekend, maybe, MAYBE, I'd have sex...
ME: "Guys"? Again? Also, what's a compensatory 15 minutes...eh, never mind. Hey, what do you think of Nolan Nawrocki?
HOGE: Now, I like the cut of that guy's jib...
** Conversation fabricated for dramatic purposes