2014 NFL Draft: Pre-Season Breakdown – Jadeveon Clowney, DE South Carolina

October 20, 2012; Gainesville FL, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) rushes against the Florida Gators during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks 44-11. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jadeveon Clowney is arguably the top college football player to come out in the past 5- years, next to Andrew Luck. The way he dominates the top competition in the SEC makes it seems as if he is a man playing little boys, even as just a freshmen he had 8 sacks and had already established him as a top SEC defender. Ever since Clowney has entered college, scouts have been salivating at his NFL prospects, even his head coach Steve Spurrier said he could have played in the NFL coming out of high school. From his first game as a college football player, he had seven tackles, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry, a week later in his SEC debut against Georgia he gained his first sack on quarterback Aaron Murray. In the 2012 college football season he had 13 sacks and 23 tackles for loss, and had 6.5 sacks against his SEC competition. His freakish blend of size, length, speed and bulk he is a rare athlete, and has pass rush moves in his sophomore season that most NFL players never learn in their entire careers. Clowney is only 20 years old, so the scary thing for opposing offenses is that he still has time to develop his game even further, by working on his strength and his run defense.

Vitals & Build

Clowney is listed at 6’6, 265 lbs. so while he has the size needed he could still stand to add a few extra pounds to his frame to help make his game more complete. He has the natural speed to maneuver around offensive linemen, as he reportedly ran a 4.5 forty without any training, which is amazing for most, especially for him being that he is almost 270 lbs. He has had a small issue with a foot injury in his college career, but nothing that is going to make anyone worry at night.

Snap Anticipation & First Step

Clowney has a very good snap anticipation and is able to read quarterbacks and linemen; he has some of the most elite instincts I have ever seen out of a college prospect. In a game against Clemson where he had 4 sacks, it seemed at times as if Clowney knew exactly when Tajh Boyd would snap the ball and what he would do. His first step is also one of the quickest I have seen, as he is incredibly quick off the snap of the ball and seems to just burst past opposing offensive linemen leaving them with no idea what happened.

Block Shedding

While he still has room to improve on his strength, he still at this point has the strength to push his competition out of his way. Clowney has the capability to just move guys any way he would like as he is far more developed than most of the competition he faces. He is able to effectively use the swim move to get linemen out of his way and get to the quarterback. His bull rush is capable of just completely pushing guys backwards, and that will only get better with time as he gains more strength.

Run Stopping

For elite pass rushers, teams often look past a player’s run stopping abilities as getting to the quarterback is their main objective. But make no mistake, as elite as a pass rusher as Clowney is, whatever team that drafts him will be getting a good run defender as well. He has long arms and very good functional strength so he is able to control his blocker at the line of scrimmage and shed them and make the tackle. Last year he had 54 total tackles, which is a good amount considering he is a defensive end in South Carolina’s scheme. His biggest issue in my opinion is defending the read option, as he can tend to be a little too aggressive and get burnt, which is something he will have to work on to strive in today’s NFL with the RGIII’s and Russell Wilson’s running these type of offenses.

Pass Rushing

Clowney is only 20 years old and currently possesses more pass rush moves than most defenders in today’s NFL have, and combined with his natural physical abilities that is a scary combination for opposing quarterbacks. Clowney has the ability to beat linemen with a variety of moves. He is able to simply use the bull rush and push guys backwards, but he also possesses the pure speed to beat guys off of the edge. One of Clowney’s moves that I like most is where he will hit the offensive linemen’s hands up and then rip past them. Clowney knows his opponents weaknesses as he possesses great football intelligence, and he knows how to fool linemen into thinking he will do one thing on them when he really plans to execute a completely different move on them. In the Clemson game he did the same move on their left tackle about four times to set the tackle up to block that move and then he just completely bull rushed him and shredded him.

System Fit

Although Clowney pretty much always played right defensive end for the Gamecocks, he has the natural ability to play whatever position he wants to. He is athletic enough to make the transition to 3-4 outside linebacker, but he also has the strength to play 5-Tech defensive end if a team were to ask him to do that. Hell, the guy could probably play nose tackle if someone was crazy enough to put him there; Clowney is just that elite of a prospect.

Schedule

Thu, Aug. 29th vs. North Carolina
Sat, Sept 7th at Georgia
Sat Sept. 14th vs. Vanderbilt
Sat, Sept. 28th at UCF
Sat.,Oct. 5th vs. Kentucky
Sat., Oct. 12th at Arkansas
Sat, Oct. 19th at Tennessee
Sat, Oct. 26th at Missouri
Sat, Nov. 2nd vs. Mississippi State
Sat, Nov. 16th vs. Florida
Sat, Nov. 23rd vs. Coastal Carolina
Sat, Nov. 30th vs. Clemson

Notable Games

Clowney plays in the toughest conference in college football, the SEC, so he will have many opportunities to show off his immense talent. Games to watch for specifically would be the second game at Georgia, where he will be facing quarterback Aaron Murray, also watch for the game vs. Florida, as Florida is one of the top teams in the SEC. The biggest game of the year for him will be outside of the SEC in a game played every year against Clemson. He will be going up against Tajh Boyd, one of the top prospects in this upcoming class of quarterbacks, and Clemson usually has a good team. Clowney had 4 sacks against Clemson last year, so while I don’t expect that kind of performance again, still look for him to be dominant.

NFL Comparison

For an NFL comparison it is very hard to find one as no player has ever had the blend of size, strength, speed, and production that Clowney has had in his college career. I would personally venture to say that there is really no comparison for him as he is just a once in a lifetime type of player that he has no real equivalent. I have never seen a college football player dominate in almost every facet of the game like Clowney does, and I will be amazed if he doesn’t do the same in the NFL.

Draft Projection

Entering his sophomore season, scouts were already claiming Clowney was an early first round pick, now that he dominated his sophomore season, he has been touted to go as high as #2, and could go #1 if someone were to pass on whichever quarterback ends up being the top guy at the end of the year. He will definitely end up going in the Top 5 at the very least due to how great of a player he has and the immense upside he has, but could slide to the latter part of the Top 5 due to this class of quarterbacks being very strong, and there are a lot of quarterback needy teams due to this year’s poor class.

 

Topics: 2014 NFL Draft, Football, Jadeveon Clowney, NFL, Scouting Report, Sec Football, South Carolina Gamecocks Football

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