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Draft Q&A: Jadeveon Clowney

Posted Jan 23, 2014

A Q&A with Josh Kendall of the State on South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney.

PHOTOS: Jadeveon Clowney at South Carolina
READ: Lobbying For #1
VIDEO: Clowney's highlights at South Carolina
AUDIO: Texans 24 Hour Radio Podcast

As part of our Texans 'On the Clock' draft profiles, we reached out to various media members who covered the featured prospect. In this week's installment we sat down with Josh Kendall.

Kendall is the South Carolina beat writer for The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C.

HoustonTexans.com: How did he improve as a player over the past three years? How did you see him evolve from his first year in the program to the player he is today?

Kendall: That's kind of a two-part question. In the first two seasons, he was exactly as advertised, a dominant guy on lots of plays as a true freshman and a dominant guy on almost every play as a sophomore. Obviously, he was not that guy. You can't say a guy who was at South Carolina for three years and a first-team All-American in two of those years was anything but a huge success, and there's no question he's the most talented defensive player in school history (former Heisman Trophy winning running back and No. 1 overall pick George Rogers is the only player at any position who is close). He did not reach his potential or expectations his final season, but he was a huge hit overall for the Gamecocks.

HoustonTexans.com: How did he improve as a player over the past three years? How did you see him evolve from his first year in the program to the player he is today?

Kendall: He didn't improve much from his sophomore to his junior year and there still is plenty of work that can be done with him from a technique standpoint, which is kind of scary I guess. His biggest weakness as a freshman was almost nonexistent use of his hands. He got better at that as a sophomore. He also needs to add more to his arsenal at some point than that swim move, but it is pretty devastating.

HoustonTexans.com: From covering him the past three years, what is his demeanor like? Is he viewed as a leader on the team?

Kendall: I would say he's very laid back off the field but can and has turned it on on the field. He enjoys being Jadeveon, and I never saw him be anything other than pleasant with the media or fans. I enjoyed every dealing I ever had with them, and think he's a generally nice guy. He was never a traditional team leader in Columbia, and I wouldn't expect him to be that guy in the NFL.

HoustonTexans.com: After putting up monster numbers his sophomore year, his statistics took a step back this season. How much of that was due to teams specifically game planning against him? Or were there other factors?

Kendall: There were other factors. From what I saw at games and on film, the notion that teams double-teamed him every time was way overblown. They certainly did that and they certainly game planned for him, but that happens to all great players. A nagging foot injury (beon spurs which he may or may not have addressed surgically before the combine) and what seemed to be a wandering focus at times also affected his production.

HoustonTexans.com: From a physical standpoint, how does Clowney compare to other defensive players you’ve covered in the SEC?

Kendall: He's the best, and it's not super close. That's saying something I know but his combination of size, speed and quick-twitch ability is off the charts. He can add some major gains in pure strength (again a scary thought) but you won't find many, if any, 280-something-pound humans with the ability to stop and start the way he does. South Carolina uses a training room measuring instrument called a TENDO in its weight room to measure explosiveness and Clowney tests off the charts on it.

HoustonTexans.com: In your opinion, what is the best fit for him in the NFL in terms of defensive scheme? Can he be successful in both 4-3 and 3-4 sets, or is he better suited for just one type of defense?

Kendall: I'm no technician, but he looks as close the perfect 4-3 defensive end as you will find. I'm sure he could make plays as a 3-4 rush linebacker, but it would take away from his No. 1 weapon, that freakish first step.

HoustonTexans.com: Clowney’s ‘motor’ has been questioned by the national media. Having been around him for more than just game days, how do you evaluate his effort on a daily basis?

Kendall: It seems to me it could get better. It's impossible for anyone outside the program to truly evaluate something like this I think, but from what I saw he needs to improve his offseason conditioning program among other things.

HoustonTexans.com: What skills do you think he most has to work on to have an immediate impact in the NFL?

Kendall: Strength and conditioning. Really good to great OTs in college football (meaning every OT in the NFL) handled him at times, mostly by getting their hands on him and overpowering him. If he can get himself in the kind of shape to stay away from those guys and improve his strength and ability to slap those hands away, he can make a big jump. Also, as I mentioned above, he'll need a technique to complement his swim move but that kind of stuff can wait I imagine.

HoustonTexans.com: What are his biggest strengths?

Kendall: Starting and stopping quickly. His body, obviously, is wired differently than ours, and it's frankly wired differently even than a lot of guys in the NFL. If he can add these other things we have talked about, he could be a MUCH better player, which is frightening. I think he's got Hall of Fame potential for sure.

HoustonTexans.com: If you were the GM of the Houston Texans, would you select Clowney with the number one overall pick in this year’s draft?

Kendall: That all depends on the quarterback question I suppose. If the front office feels like there is a franchise quarterback, they've got to take that guy, but if there's not and you can get a good-enough guy at the top of the second round, it's worth a look. Clowney will have to answer the "How motivated will you be once we park a truck full of cash in your driveway?" question about 1,000 times between now and the draft. If the answer is, put his nose to the grindstone and try to be the absolute best he can be, he'll be an elite NFL player for a decade.


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