South Carolina Gamecocks star pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney has been rated as the top defensive player in the 2014 NFL Draft class for quite some time, but not everyone has Clowney on top. Buffalo’s Khalil Mack is right behind him in my eyes, and there are some who believe that his consistency and lack of work ethic concerns make him the safer- and therefore better- selection. There’s a chance that Mack could go ahead of Clowney, but that’s not something I would be a fan of. Mack is a great, blue-chip prospect, but Clowney is on a different level.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that “handful of evaluators” he spoke with stated that they have “greater confidence” in Mack than Clowney, because they believe that Mack is more consistent and versatile. Mort also cited “skills” as a reason why these evaluators have more confidence in Mack, but I don’t really think that’s a legitimate reason at all.
The Mack vs. Clowney debate will continue to heat up, and it will reach crazy levels by the time free agency cools down and draft talk takes center state again. I just can’t justify taking Mack above Clowney when Clowney faced tougher opponents, has even better tools than Mack, and is consistent and versatile in his own right (Mack has him in the versatility department, though). It’s not that far-fetched to have Mack over Clowney, but it reeks of paralysis by analysis to me.