Last summer, when I truly started my hard-core draft analysis and in-depth film study, I decided to wait a few days to analyze newest Houston Texan Jadeveon Clowney. Ultimately, I knew that there was no way that I could study Clowney and then objectively grade others AFTER watching him on the field. So, I started with a few linebackers, another defensive end and a safety, then I dove in on Clowney.
It was as I expected and perhaps worse…or even better, now that he's a Texan. No one in the country was as unique on the defensive side of the ball as him. Never in my wildest thoughts did I ever believe that Clowney would be wearing deep steel blue, battle red and liberty white on Sunday afternoons. Here's my scouting report of what I saw from Clowney (written Summer of 2013, completed Winter of 2013)
Jadeveon Clowney Scouting Report
Height: 6'5 1/3"
Weight: 266 lbs.
School: South Carolina
2X All-American (2012, 2013)
2012 SEC Defensive Player of the Year
2X First-team All-SEC (2012, 2013)
Set school records for QB Sacks in a season (13) & TFLs in a season (23.5) in 2012
2013 Stats: 40 tackles, 3 sacks, 11.5 TFLs and 24 pressures
40 yard dash - 4.53 seconds
Bench Press - 21 reps
Vertical Jump - 37.5"
Broad Jump - 10'4"
3 Cone Drill - 7.27 seconds
Arm length - 34 1/2"
Hand size - 10"
-- Strong and incredibly violent hands
-- Understands moments in a game - cranks it up to invincible...when he wants
-- Inside move is the best in the game - rarely is it blocked
-- Full pass rush repertoire - except spin move
-- Change of direction and redirection abilities are those of 5-10 point guard
-- 6-6 with speed and power unlike anyone recently in the game
-- Bumped inside to three technique last year to get all three DE on the field on 3rd down
-- Explosive to and through ball carriers
-- At 6-6, he's got to learn that he can't play over helmets, must play with better leverage, lower
-- Because he understands moments in a game, there are times he throttles back when tired
-- Can get knocked around on pass rush when uncovered linemen are looking him up
-- When he swims to the outside against strong tackles, he can get lifted
-- When tired, he tends to tippy toe off the snap, not burst. Effort a issue in 2013, does he have the requisite work ethic to succeed in NFL?
Playing word association on Clowney is sort of fun. Explosive. Menacing. Freakish. But, to me, it's hands. Everyone remembers the Hit on Vinson Smith in last year's Outback Bowl. It's vicious and powerful and nasty and all those words used to describe a big hit. But, the one thing that stood out to me at that time was the fact that after he made the hit and caused the fumble, he reached over and palmed the football with one hand.
Then going back and watching film on him, I realized that was the bat signal, alerting me that his hands were his best trait. He uses them as well as any college player I can remember. If he hasn't sped past you, he'll get his hands on you; as such he's so strong with them he can dictate what he wants like a marionette.
A look at the Texans No. 1 selection, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
There's no comparison to Mario Williams at all, which a number of people have tried to make. Not in a million years. Body type and freakish athleticism, sure. But, Williams didn't come close to having the football skill that Clowney possesses.
Yet, Clowney isn't flawless. At 6-6, he can still play a bit too high, allowing good tackles (i.e NFL types) to lift him or ride him right out of a play. He can take plays off and that'll be the one major question he'll have to answer throughout the draft process. Do you play hard all the time? Why were you taken off the field at key times in key games in 2013? Did you pull yourself off the field when you got tired in those the games?
The expectations are through the roof for Clowney and many thought that he didn't come close to living up to them in 2013. His statistical production was way down from his 2012 numbers but he still found ways to impact games. No player in the country was hit with as many blockers as Clowney was. Does that excuse his absence on the field in key situations as noted above? Not at all.
But, to truly assess Clowney, take a holistic view of what he's done throughout his entire career. Can't get past the effort/work ethic question? You won't be the only one. That said, the GM sitting there on Thursday night when it's his turn to select, once Clowney has fallen into his lap...that'll be one happy man.
Luckily for all Texans fans, that GM was Rick Smith on Thursday night.