Jadaveon Clowney: 5 Reasons Why He Should Still Be a Top NFL Pick
Justifying Jadeveon Clowney As A Top NFL Draft Pick
After watching South Carolina pull out a surprisingly tough 35-28 victory over Kentucky in Week 6 of the college football season, many people were left wondering one thing: Where exactly was Jadeveon Clowney?
The answer to that question was sitting on the sidelines.
Apparently, Clowney was out of the game as a result of a bruise to his ribs that caused him to tell South Carolina coaches shortly before game time that he was pulling himself out of the game. To say that this decision did not go over well was an understatement, as the current culture in football promotes players staying on the field as long as they can walk.
But at the very least, one would have thought that Clowney would have at least had the support of his head coach, Steve Spurrier, who seemed to be rather perturbed after the game that his star defensive end did not play. When asked about Clowney's absence, the old ball coach attempted to work around the question, but gave off a distinct vibe that he was disappointed by Clowney's absence.
After watching Spurrier seem to discount whether or Clowney was truly injured enough to be sitting out, a number of people began to make declarations that his stock in the 2014 NFL Draft would automatically go down the drain. Needless to say, this declaration was a bit premature and was frankly wrong as there are a number of reasons that stand in Clowney's corner as he heads into the draft next May.
With this in mind, I have compiled a list of the five most important things that will be sitting in his favor as NFL executives begin to look at their draft boards.
5. Clowney's On-Field Performance In 2013 Has Actually Been Good
On paper, the two sacks and 12 tackles that Jadeveon Clowney has tallied through four games appears to be somewhat of a downer. Fortunately for Clowney though, the eye test shows that he has actually been effective despite not looking good on paper. His attraction of double- and triple-teams has made life easier on other South Carolina defenders. While this ability to make life easier on his teammates may not look good on the score sheet, the facts are that NFL executives look at much more than statistics when drafting players, and Clowney will be a beneficiary of this.
4. Scouts Know How High His Ceiling Is
After recording 13 sacks during the 2012 season and playing like a monster, there is no doubting that Jadeveon Clowney has already shown he has mastered the college football scene. At this point, scouts already know he has the capabilities to run through any player in college football, and this is proven by the fact that many felt he would have been the no. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft if he would have been eligible.
3. Clowney Is Still A Physical Specimen
To go along with the fact that Jadeveon Clowney has not been bad in 2013 and was an absolute beast in 2012 comes what everyone knows -- he has not skipped a beat in terms of speed or agility. In fact, the 6-foot-6, 274-pound defensive end is likely only getting stronger and is likely in better physical shape right now than he was at any point in 2012. The name of the game in the NFL is getting the player with the greatest potential, and anyone that has both watched Clowney play and seen his physique knows he has the potential to become a force on the defensive end at the pro level.
2. Being Healthy In 2014 Is All that Matters
When it comes down to the NFL Draft, it does not truly matter what you did last season, but what you will do in the upcoming season for the team who drafted you. For this reason, some teams will be encouraged that Jadeveon Clowney has decided to effectively take himself out of any injury risks he can and save himself for the NFL. Teams already know what he can do on the field, and given the fact that he will likely only get stronger by having more time to recuperate and work on his strengths, it is certainly possible that sitting out games at the college level could actually help his draft status, not hurt it.
1. The 2014 NFL Draft Has Few High-End Defensive Talents
When it comes down to competition for spots in the top 10 picks of the 2014 NFL Draft, the only other player who has shown the combination of talent and production to compete for a spot is outside linebacker Anthony Barr. And while Barr is undoubtedly an immensely talented player, he can't even claim to sit in the same galaxy compared to the talent that Jadeveon Clowney possesses. While some people will say that teams will pass on defensive players if they have to, we have seen that history has proven this not to be true, and it will be impossible to pass up the only truly high-caliber defensive talent in the draft. For this reason, it will be impossible for Clowney to fall out of the top five picks in the draft, and possibly even out of the top three.