Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Two Cents on Jadeveon Clowney's Draft Status

Jadeveon Clowney has been a household name (well, any household with cable and a passing interest in sports) for his three years at South Carolina, and now as the draft approaches for the swirl of questions and attention he has been receiving. ESPN has just published an article, in fact, where they seem to lend some credibility to all the talk about Clowney's work ethic, or lack thereof. NFL scouts apparently question him and are wary of drafting someone who undoubtedly, clearly took his foot off the gas in his last year on a competitive SEC team, probably in order to prepare for the NFL. Clowney will doubtless go top 5, regardless of all the talk, but it bears mentioning that there is definitely some legitimacy to issues about his draft status and what NFL teams really feel or suspect about this guy.
Firstly, anyone can see he is a ridiculous athlete, with raw talent the likes of which is rarely found. He apparently trains like an freak and obviously has the body type and combine numbers to succeed in the NFL.While everyone finds something to argue about concerning Clowney, one thing we can all agree on is that when he wants to (and yes, sometimes he may not) he can absolutely change a game on defense. This can be said about any great defensive end of course, but not every defensive end does this in a BCS bowl game. Remember January 1st, 2013?
A great moment

He puts together a great highlight reel obviously, and with plays like that it's little wonder some call him a "once in a generation player." But while I previously disregarded everything about Clowney that was a bit critical, now I am forced to admit that there is something to this. There are apparently plenty of NFL scouts saying flatly that they see the drop in his numbers as a warning sign. Here is another thing we can agree on. Clowney after 2012 would have absolutely gone first overall in the draft, coming off a season where he established without doubt that he was the best defensive player in college football. Some said he was the best defensive player since Lawrence Taylor. But 2013 came and he went from 13 sacks to just 3, 54 tackles to 35, and skipped a couple of games with vague injuries or health issues. That's a terrible progression, or regression in fact. He started the season as a Heisman runner up but faded rapidly, causing what we now have to be a very interesting and kinda awkward situation. We all saw the player he was in 2012, which is probably the player he can be, but what do we make of a mediocre and tumultuous last season, where he struggled with coaches (Steve Spurrier), teammates, and health?
With May 8th fast approaching, many raise legitimate concerns about Clowney's status as an immediately elite player in the NFL, due to the drop in numbers and the issues with health. But I still hold that Clowney is a truly elite player, and I would take Clowney first overall in a heartbeat. I think the Texans will do this, and they will be happy they did soon after the season starts. Ultimately no draft pick is without his risks, but with Clowney there is an astonishing upside. That's what it boils down to: There is definitely a range of how he will perform, as applies to any athlete, but just think for a moment if we see 2012 Clowney on the field. Though he seems like different player after last season, we saw what he can do, and the Texans can only hope (with a good amount of confidence) that he will bring it again in the NFL.

No comments:

Post a Comment