South Carolina Gamecocks: Jadeveon Clowney Should Be NFL Draft's Top Pick

By Tim Letcher

Jadeveon Clowney wowed a lot of NFL scouts and executives on Monday at the NFL Combine, running a 40-yard dash in the same time as many running backs. At 6-5 and 266 pounds, Clowney was extremely impressive in this particular drill.

But Clowney, a former defensive end for the South Carolina Gamecocks, still has many questions to answer. Among those questions are some off the field incidents, such as driving well in excess of the speed limit.

There are also questions on the field. While Clowney has been known to make many spectacular plays, he has also been known to take plays off. In fact, Warren Sapp, who is in the NFL Hall of Fame, said that Clowney should be embarrassed to watch his own game tape, because of the lack of effort that he (Clowney) put forth.

This notion was furthered by Clowney’s coach at South Carolina, Steve Spurrier. When asked about Clowney’s work ethic in practice, Spurrier said “he was OK.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

With those things said, it seems like Clowney has no shot at being the top overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. After all, who wants a player that takes plays off, doesn’t give maximum effort and gets in trouble off the field?

However, there are those other things that Clowney can do that might make him the best choice for the Houston Texans with the number one pick. The fact that he is 6-5, 266 pounds and can run a 4.5 40-yard dash. The fact that he has shown great instincts and abilities on the field. The fact that he has more upside than any other player in this draft, if someone can just figure out how to get that maximum effort from him.

Spurrier’s quote got a lot of attention, because he seemed to take a shot at Clowney when he didn’t have to. However, if one looks at the entire quote, Spurrier does say something really strong in favor of Clowney. After saying his work ethic was OK, and that he didn’t work as hard as some former players, including Marcus Lattimore, Spurrier finished by saying this: “But when the ball is snapped, he’s got something no one else has.”

And that is why Clowney should be the top pick in the NFL Draft.

Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.


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