Jadeveon Clowney is already one of the most hyped up players for the 2014 draft. I’ve heard some people mention that he might even reach Andrew Luck-status as the sure fire top pick, one year early. A lot of his hype is certainly deserved, but some forget that there is another talented defensive end on the Gamecock’s d-line.
Devin Taylor’s size stands out, and is probably the only thing that stands out to most when you compare him to his teammate. Taylor is almost 6’8″ tall and around 265 pounds. His size is comparable to Clowney’s and he looks a little bit more well-built (as he should, being two years older).
Taylor’s size is excellent for the position, as is his ability to work laterally across the line of scrimmage. He knows his game well. Clowney’s game is north-south, his burst off of the line is unmatched and he is best utilized getting up the field towards the QB. Taylor is a little bit more sophisticated in his approach. He is disciplined working down the line of scrimmage in the running game and can use his size to shrink the pocket when necessary.
His pass rush has never really developed. I think part of the problem is playing next to other guys that SC designates as their pass-rusher. They went out of their way to develop tons of stunts for Melvin Ingram last year, and they do everything they can to isolate Clowney this year. Taylor has stunted inside, and attacked the outside shoulders of guards to pull pass rushing attention away from others, but it has led to a mediocre pass-rushing repertoire.
His burst off of the line isn’t very impressive. Like many tall guys, he stands up too quick and loses momentum. This allows him to lose a lot of 1-on-1 matchups. He isn’t a bad athlete, but he just hasn’t learned how to utilize his skill set very effectively.
I think he has the frame to get up to at least 280. If he can do that, I think he can hold down the weak side as a 3-4 end. He could then continue to frame the edge in the running game while taking heat off his outside rush backer.
I feel for Taylor having played across/next to two other first round picks at his position, but he is just a little to underdeveloped to sneak into day one. I think his frame, measurables, and experience warrant a second day pick, but the team that takes him will have to be patient.