Before the 2013 college football season began, Jadeveon Clowney was already penciled in as the top prospect in the entire country and presumed No. 1 overall pick in May’s NFL Draft. Throughout the season concerns about his motor and work ethic were raised, but after further proving his freakish athletic ability during the NFL Scouting Combine he proved he’s simply too good to pass up come May 8.
Clowney ran a blazing 4.53 40-yard dash time, which was the fastest among every defensive linemen and quarterbacks at the event. Standing at 6-foot-5, 266-pounds, Clowney is already a player who has a towering presence. But adding in his ability to outrun the vast majority of quarterbacks in the NFL, and a fair share of running backs as well, it’s clear no NFL team can afford to pass up the dominating speed rusher.
Aside from the character issues raised by his speeding tickets and work ethic, others also question how Clowney would perform as a run stopper in a typical 3-4 defense. It’s no secret his specialty is rushing the passer in a 4-3 set, but with the Houston Texans — who hold the No. 1 overall pick — running a base 3-4 defense, Clowney would be asked to rush the passer or stuff the run depending on the offensive play call.
His 21 bench press reps may raise questions about his strength, which comes into play when separating from an offensive linemen and stopping the ball carrier, but given how much stock is put into a player’s potential, you simply cannot pass on Clowney who has all the physical attributes to be one of the best defensive players of all time. Strength can easily be added through time and work, but the speed and hitting ability Clowney possesses are things that will make him a dominating force from day one.
Anthony Barr out of UCLA is a raw athlete many predict to be a top-10 pick come May 8, but if grading him and Clowney on the same scale, the 266-pound defensive lineman has both a more refined game and higher ceiling, and it’s not even close. People like to nitpick the presumed top prospect — the reason Teddy Bridgewater has also fallen under some criticism lately — but the simple matter of the fact is that Clowney dominates whomever he faces and is faster than Barr and the numerous other highly ranked defensive players.
The Texans have a need at quarterback, but when you have the chance to take a surefire NFL starter and potential All-Pro selection, you take him and smile on your way to running one of the most dominant defenses in recent memory.