South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is arguably the top prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft, and it would be a surprise for the elite DE to slip outside of the top five. Due to needs at quarterback, depth at QB, and the perceived lack of effort Clowney showed as a junior, there’s a chance of that happening. That said, I think there’s just as much of a chance of Clowney dropping out of the top five as there is the Houston Texans drafting him and foregoing their need at QB (it would be unwise for the Texans to pass up on Teddy Bridgewater or another QB, though).
I’ve been a staunch defender of Clowney’s for over a year, and I’m not concerned at all about his lack of stats as a junior. He was heavily gameplanned against by offensive coordinators, so it’s far more important to take a look at Clowney’s tape. And when I watched the South Carolina Gamecocks play in tape, I was always impressed by just how much Clowney opened up plays for Chaz Sutton and Kelcy Quarles, who have higher draft stocks thanks to Clowney’s dominant play as both a pass rusher and run defender.
I’m not overly concerned about Clowney’s lack of effort, since he really didn’t have much to prove to draft scouts or much to play for. That said, he did owe much more to his teammates at South Carolina, though I also believe that the talk about him mailing it in is blown out of proportion. Again, just look at how much he opened things up. I don’t think effort will be a problem at the NFL level, but it is far for Clowney to have to justify things to NFL front offices in the pre-draft process.
The State’s Josh Kendall reports that Jadeveon Clowney will not be mailing things in during the NFL Combine this year, as he stated that he will participate in all drills. In fact, Clowney added that he will put up “amazing” numbers, which is a statement that shouldn’t be doubted given Clowney’s incredible size, strength, and athleticism; his physical tools are beyond rare.