2014 NFL Draft Scouting Report: South Carolina Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney
To prepare for the 2014 NFL Draft InsidetheFilmRoom is breaking down the best 5 prospects from every position. This week we are examining the top pass rushing prospects and we are focusing our attention on South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney today.
Blessed with a perfect blend of size, length, quickness and power Jadeveon Clowney’s potential is other worldly. This potential was obvious in Clowney’s high school days and vaulted him to stardom as the number one recruit in 2011, before he enrolled at South Carolina. Once a Gamecock, Clowney’s potential started to become reality as he dominated older and more experienced offensive linemen as a true freshman with pure athleticism.
As a sophomore, Clowney leaped from a great defensive linemen to a legit Heisman candidate by absolutely demolishing everyone that stood in his way. He would have likely been the number one pick last year, but archaic NFL rules prevented him from entering the NFL so he returned for his junior season. Understandably, his production dropped last season as he focused on protecting himself from injuries and waited until he could capitalize on his immense talents in the NFL.
Now eligible to enter the NFL Draft, Clowney has seemingly solidified his status as the number one pick with a NFL Combine performance that confirmed his ridiculous athleticism. With his blend of speed and power Clowney is beastly pass rusher that will be able to overwhelm NFL offensive tackles from day one.
Simply put, Clowney is a once in a decade talent that has the potential to be the best player at a premium position in the NFL.
Unique Athlete: Incredible blend of power, speed and quickness, likely the most athletic defensive end to ever enter the NFL Draft, huge frame with long arms, fluid feet and hips, explosive in every movement, incredible lateral agility, too quick to be cut blocked, converts speed into power extremely well and has the ideal body for an NFL defensive end.
Speed Rush: Has elite speed to run the arc around offensive tackles, good flexibility to get his body on an angle, speed to chase down QBs/RBs from behind, great in run pursuit and he uses the threat of his speed rush to set up his inside moves.
Burst/Quickness: Truly amazing first step, fires off the ball like he was shot out of a cannon, crosses the face of lineman with ease, shoots the gaps at will, lives in the backfield, uses it with great success against both the run and pass, makes him nearly impossible to engage squarely and is the main reason he can be a once in a generation player.
Pass Rushing Moves: Already has a developed repertaur of pass rushing moves including a bull rush, spin move, rip/swim move and speed rush, sets up his moves well, can counter off each of his moves and still has room to refine his technique.
Disruptive Against the Run: Blows up running plays with his penetration, has the athleticism to crash down and still provide contain, quickness is evident when offensive linemen reach to block him, overpowers blockers with ease and has the size/power to bring down runners with arm tackles.
This Hit: This captures all of Clowney’s brilliance in one play, his lightening quick move to cross the face of a likely 1st round NFL tackle, his incredible burst to fire downhill, his size/hitting ability and his awareness to scoop up the loose ball. Also this play simply makes me happy.
Ego/Maturity: Didn’t play with consistent effort, disconnect between him and the coaching staff over injuries, seemingly has an ego, ticketed for speeding twice since December and worries about how he will react to stardom in the NFL.
Overall: What else to there to say about Jadeveon Clowney. We have all seen his highlights, heard the draft experts debate his potential and understand that he is clearly the best prospect in this year’s draft.
The one thing we don’t know– and it is the major worry for NFL teams looking to draft him– is how he will respond to being an NFL superstar. Many draft experts are quick to point out his lack of effort/maturity at South Carolina as a potentially dangerous track record that could be exacerbated by stardom. Others defend him saying he was playing at half speed to save his effort/health for when he will be compensated for his production. Both are valid arguments but are ultimately pointless.
Similar to Randy Moss or Shaq, Clowney might never fully maximize his talents– he doesn’t seem to have the internal fire to drive him to do so– but he doesn’t need too because he is that much superior athletically. He is so gifted with his combination of size, speed, quickness and power that even if he only reach 85% of his potential he could easily become an NFL superstar. So while this talk of his motor/maturity is real and will effect his performance Clowney is simply too gifted not to be selected by the Texans with the number one pick. Also, the thought of J.J Watt and Clowney together is awesome as long as your not a Colts, Jags or Titans fan.
Ultimately, Clowney will be the most athletic defensive linemen– a position where athleticism abilities translate to success higher than any other position– in the NFL from day one. With that one in a decade athleticism Clowney will be the 1st overall pick in the NFL draft and will finally get his chance to shine on the biggest stage.
Prediction: 1st Overall Pick
Other 2014 Pass Rushers Scouting Reports: