The closer the 2013 NFL Draft gets, the hotter the debate gets regarding South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. About 97 percent of the intelligent football world agrees that if he was eligible, Clowney would be the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. However, it’s about a 50-50 split as to whether or not the league should make Clowney an exception to its rule that requires all players to be out of high school for three years before they’re eligible to be drafted.
The primary part of the debate is injury. When players like Kentucky basketball forward Nerlens Noel tore his ACL this week, those who believe Clowney should be allowed to enter the draft after only two years of college football get louder, arguing that the same could happen to Clowney as a junior this year.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley had the option to enter the 2012 NFL Draft and likely would have been a top 10 pick had he done so, but he battled the injury bug as a senior and suffered through a season that wasn’t nearly as productive as he had planned and now he’s fighting to even be considered a first-round pick. Even if Clowney doesn’t suffer an injury, the only thing he can do as a junior is hurt his draft stock; you can’t be taken higher than No. 1 overall.
However, there are those who will simply say that football players play football and that Clowney should play. They use this argument against those who suggest Clowney should just drop out of school, sign a bunch of endorsement deals, train for a year and then enter the 2014 NFL Draft as the No. 1 overall pick with a truckload of cash. Even then he’s at risk of injury, which could still hurt his stock.
In short, there’s no way out for Clowney; he’s simply going to have to play his junior year at South Carolina as if there was no debate. Hopefully he’ll have a final college season like Andrew Luck, who was considered the easy No. 1 overall pick in 2011 and then kept that same spot in 2012.
Clowney is highly unlikely to sit out his junior season and try as they might, the Kansas City Chiefs aren’t going to get the NFL to bend its rule and neither is anyone else. But lost in all this are the Gamecocks, who were a pretty good football team in 2012 and could be even better in 2013, especially with another year of solid defensive play from Clowney.
So what do you think? Let us know in the comment section below or hit us up with the hashtag #RML.