With the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans have selected South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans have acquired the rights to the best overall player in the draft and one described by NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah as the best prospect he's seen in a decade. Mel Kiper said he gave Clowney the highest grade of any player since Bruce Smith in 1985.
Before he had even played a single game in the garnet and black, Jadeveon was already openly discussing his intentions to declare for the NFL Draft following his junior season, so it came as no surprise when he did just that. Though Clowney didn't have the kind of statistical production in his collegiate swan song (three sacks, 11 tackles for loss) that many had hoped for following his eye- and helmet-popping sophomore season (13 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss), he commanded double- and triple-teams all season, creating opportunities for his teammates to make plays.
As a freshman, Clowney's precocious talent and versatility forced then-defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson to play him right away even though he did not yet fully grasp the offense. Those qualities should also get him on the field right away in Houston. Clowney has excellent upside as a pass-rusher with lightning-fast quickness off the ball that frequently creating the appearance that he's in the backfield before the ball even leaves the center's hands. At South Carolina, he also lined up on the interior defensive line on passing downs and occasionally dropped into coverage on zone blitzes.
Jadeveon isn't a perfect prospect, but the deficiencies in his game have everything to do with technique and nothing to do with talent. As former NFL defensive end Stephen White points out, correcting those flaws is the key to unlocking Clowney's massive potential.
In many ways, I'm pretty puzzled (and somewhat disappointed) as to how Clowney could have played that much in college and still be this raw technique-wise. It's also because he is still so raw that makes him so attractive as the top overall pick. Unless we find out that Clowney repeatedly refused to learn new things, he should be viewed as a ball of clay just waiting to be molded into an ass-kicking, pass-rushing monster.
Clowney is a great pick for the Texans. While they still need to address the need for a franchise quarterback, they've elected to take the best player available. Clowney joins an already fierce defensive line with the Houston Texans. With All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt anchoring the defense, this duo has the potential to instantly become the most dominant tandem in the NFL. Although the Texans finished the season with the worst record in the league, their two wins are certainly not a reflection to level of talent this team already possesses with veteran starters like Watt, Brian Cushing, and Jonathan Joseph.
Clowney will likely be penciled in as the starter when the Texans open the 2014 campaign at home against the Washington Redskins.
Weight: 266 lbs
Hand size: 10"
40-yard dash: 4.53
Broad jump: 124"
Vertical jump 37.5"
With his combination of size and speed, we can expect to see Jadeveon Clowney lined up all over the field. Whether his hands or in the dirt lined up in the end position or whether he's standing up as a linebacker as an edge rusher, Clowney will be given all the opportunity in the world to make plays. With the selection of Clowney, we should expect to see other teams in AFC South address the offensive tackle position through the draft and free agency. The Clowney/Watt tandem presents a new threat that the rival coaches have not grown accustomed to facing.