Scouting the DEs: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

Jadeveon Clowney is the best non-QB to enter the NFL in the last decade.

Jadeveon Clowney is the best non-QB to enter the NFL in the last decade.

There comes a time when a talent evaluator feels lucky to be covering the NFL Draft.  Rarely, in the lifespan of any one scout’s career, does a prospect come along that can be described as “generational.”

That’s exactly what Jadeveon Clowney is.

Coming into the 2013 college football season, there was little-to-no doubt that Clowney would be sitting atop the NFL Draft by season’s end.  But questions about his work ethic, desire and conditioning, combined with his lack of statistical productivity, seemed to derail what was once considered a sure-fire, No.1 overall draft slot for him.

That’s likely to change as we head into the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, as it’s expected that Clowney will put up more than impressive numbers and thus, re-ignite his status as a rare, elite specimen.

In the opinion of FRG Scouting, he’s never been anything but.  His film is equally as impressive in 2013 as it was in 2012, and his numbers at the Scouting Combine will only solidify the below analysis.

The following is FRG Scouting’s breakdown of Jadeveon Clowney.

HEIGHT:       6’5″
WEIGHT:      274lbs

Jadeveon Clowney enters the 2014 NFL Draft as one of the most scrutinized, and talented, prospects in the last decade…Standing 6’5″ and weighing 274lbs, he presents with the perfect frame to play in any scheme; He’s big and strong enough to play as a 43DE while also possessing enough athletic ability to succeed in space as a 34OLB…After a 13 sack season in 2012, Clowney ended 2013 with only 3 QB sacks (also managed 10.5 TFL)…Rare athlete for his size; Displays elite movement skills and COD ability. Clowney has total and explosive control over his body’s movements, with every step visibly loaded with “juice”…Possesses elite strength, both in his upper and lower body; Consistently displays the ability to get his hands on the lineman’s chestplate, fully extend his arms, and shed the larger player with ease. Clowney is able to hold up at the POA, too. He lowers his shoulder into the lineman, digs his feet into the dirt and holds his position…Versus the run, Clowney possesses cat-like reflexes, capable of running down the LOS to make a play from behind. He has enough athletic ability and flexibility to break down in space and finish a play, although sometimes he lets himself get too out of control…When run at, Clowney is strong enough to anchor at the play’s aiming point and clog the hole, while also being skilled enough to stack, shed and make a play…Versus the pass, there’s simply not another pass rusher that compares to him. Clowney is one of the fastest prospects at the snap of the ball to enter the NFL in the last decade; He wins at the edge and his strength and explosion to turn the corner is a nightmare for quarterbacks…Clowney possesses a plus swim move that only enhances his initial get-off…Flashes a good rip and a solid speed to power conversion; He has a well-developed pass rush arsenal for a player that is still getting better….His closing burst is the best for any prospect in recent memory; There’s no ball carrier that will be able to outrun his combination of speed, quickness and length.

There are questions about Clowney’s work ethic from well-connected insiders and concerns about his off-field influences…Was criticized for his lack of effort at times during the season as well as his apparent lack of conditioning…Has bone spur(s) in his foot that could continue to linger/become a nagging issue.

On the next level, Jadeveon Clowney projects as a potentially generational talent who should be the first selection overall. Aside from Andrew Luck (Colts), there isn’t another prospect in recent Draft history with as much upside as that which Clowney is bringing to the NFL. Clowney will instantly become one of the most feared pass rushers in the League with the ability to post double-digit sacks in his rookie season. He’ll be equally effective as a run defender, as his speed, power and rare quickness will make him an almost impossible task for linemen to block. I have no concerns over the level of effort that you’ll get from Clowney, as he’ll likely be chasing two big money contracts during his NFL career. Clowney is one of those rare talents that a franchise sitting at the top of the draft likely won’t have a chance at again. You don’t pass that up. He is an absolute steal at any spot after the first overall pick.

GRADE: 9.6 (#1 pick overall)

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