The Houston Texans are unofficially on the clock with the first overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft. Before the Texans took a single snap this season, the entire football world had Jadeveon Clowney earmarked as the top football player in the country. Clowney’s monster hit in the Outback Bowl on January 1st, 2013 sparked the Gamecocks to a bowl win and ignited a nation of believers. Yet, over the past 12 months Clowney’s flame has flickered just enough to draw questions whether or not he is truly college football’s top prospect.
Clowney failed to live up to the lofty hype and expectations last season at South Carolina. His 11.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks were down from the his previous two years when he averaged 17 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks.
Did he really need to prove anything more on the football field anyway?
Was the thought of Marcus Lattimore’s season ending knee injury in 2012 still etched in the back of his mind? Was Clowney just playing tentative, or does he have red flags concerning his work ethic?
NFL teams might be tempted to look past Clowney’s recent lack of production because he possesses an incredible upside and a rare combination of physical size, speed and talent.
At the NFL Scouting Combine, Clowney measured in at 6’5” 266lbs and was officially clocked at 4.53 in the 40 with a sizzling 1.56 10-yard split. Explosive quickness, a broad jump of 10’4” and a vertical leap of 37.5 inches wowed the evaluators and exhibited a sampling of why many believe he is the best defensive prospect they’ve seen in recent years.
Texan’s owner Bob McNair had high praise for Clowney when he said via the team’s official website, “He is a remarkable player. He’s one of these player’s that really is a once-in-every-10-years kind of physical specimen that comes along.”
McNair has already talked to JJ Watt about the possibility of teaming them together and trying to instill Watt’s work ethic into Clowney.
I like Jadeveon Clowney over Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or Sammy Watkins as my #1 overall player because I think he scores the highest in these five criteria.
1. The top pick must represent a day one starter in the NFL.
2. The top pick must have elite NFL size and intangibles for his position.
3. The top pick must have proven Blue Chip talent.
4. The top pick must be able to handle being the face of a franchise.
5. The top pick must be a game changer that can motivate his team to play better around him.
Jadeveon Clowney is an absolute impelling defensive end. If he is teamed with JJ Watt on the defensive front in Houston, DC Romeo Crennel will be able to do some nasty things to make the opposing quarterback’s job miserable. I know, Crennel likes to play a 3-4, and Clowney doesn’t have any 3-4 experience. So, could that be a problem? Not really.
When I watch tape on Clowney, I see a guy with great burst and quickness that tries to runs around blocks rather than shed them with power and technique. What you get with Clowney is NOT an arsenal of moves or fundamentals, just freakish quickness and tackling ability. He has enough size, strength and balance to set the edge and not get moved backwards, but in space, Clowney is nearly impossible to block. Last season however, teams successfully double teamed him because he was always lined him up in a traditional 4-3 DE position. I am convinced it will take a 3-4 master mind like Romeo Crennel to create space by moving him around and standing him up as a pass rushing OLB on occasion for Clowney to become the true NFL monster I think he can be.
The Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater slide to the Vikings starts with the #1 pick, Jadeveon Clowney!