Jan 1, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) runs off the field after the second quarter of the Capital One Bowl against the Wisconsin Badgers held at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
With Atlanta making their first pick at 6th overall this year, Thomas Dimitroff will be faced with quite a dilemma. Trade up, trade down, or stay where we’re at. Picking at No.6 in most drafts would mean that you are without a doubt getting a game-changing prospect. While this is still true in 2014, players of Jadeveon Clowney’s caliber do not come by very often. Atlanta must take Clowney with their first pick, whether we trade up to get him or not.
Clowney’s intangibles are unmatched by his peers in this draft class. The Gamecocks website has JDC listed at 6’6″ and 274 pounds, and he utilizes every bit of it. With a career 24 sacks, and 47 tackles for loss, it is obvious he knows how to find himself in the backfield. In the SEC, Jadeveon played against some of the best talent the NCAA has to offer. While the tabloids will question Clowney’s motivation, don’t let the rumors fool you. “He takes plays off”, and “he only plays when he wants to”, are two of the most common reasons people have to fuel their disinclination of him as a potential Falcon. In 2013, Clowney played with injured ribs, ankle bone spurs, and a muscle strain for a better part of the season. Yes, he did keep himself from playing against Kentucky, but wouldn’t you sit as well if your future career may be in jeopardy? I’d believe so.
By using “he takes plays off” as a reason against Clowney, shows you didn’t watch him play much this season. No athlete on any level can truthfully say they give 100% on every single down, it’s just not going to happen. Fatigue eventually gets to everyone, and the the injuries didn’t help either. Double, and even triple teams were placed on Jadeveon for the sole reason of slowing him down, because you aren’t going to take him out of the game. This is where it becomes a numbers game. While Clowney is demanding double, and triple teams at RE, other players on the Defense are given the opportunity to make a play. This is the main reason he is the top prospect in my book. Clowney’s presence alone can improve the defense as a whole. Adding him to a line with (a hopefully returning) Corey Peters, who also draws multiple double teams, would make the Falcons’ defensive front a nightmare to scheme against.
I like to think of Clowney as a Queen in a game of Chess. Your opponent must always account for the Queen; watching where it is, and how it can soil your plan. If you make a wrong move, the Queen bypasses your defenses, and you’ve lost the game. Clowney is that piece.