Jadeveon Clowney DE South Carolina #7
Size/Athleticism: The prototypical defensive end in every way. Ideal height and length. Exceptional blend of power and agility. Has the speed to run down quarterbacks and ball carriers.
Run Defense: A very underrated aspect of his game. Impressive closing speed for his size. Shows good awareness and takes correct angles in pursuit. Does a nice job fighting through traffic to chase down the ball carrier. Despite his pass-rush abilities, he doesn’t explode into the backfield on every play like some overzealous young edge rushers—he’s patient and willing to hesitate off the snap to remain in position to stop the run.
Pass Rush: Elite potential, but somewhat inconsistent. Explosive first step, which is where he typically wins. He’s a speed rusher first, but definitely has a power component to his game. Can deliver a devastating punch to knock an offensive lineman on his heels, especially with a step or two of momentum. Rarely stonewalled by offensive linemen. Even when he’s engaged and controlled, he’s powerful enough to walk them back into the pocket. Does a great job keeping an eye on the quarterback and adjusting to his movements and getting his arms up into passing lanes.
Versatility: Has some experience lining up inside at tackle and even a few snaps at linebacker, dropping into zone coverage.
Intangibles: Work ethic isn’t ideal which has been well documented and confirmed by comments from Steve Spurrier. Cited for speeding (once over 100 mph) twice during 2013 offseason, but has no other legal issues. Characters concerns all stem from his work ethic and a perception that he lacks the motivation to be elite.
Durability: Questionable injury history. Sat out a game in 2013 with bruised ribs despite being cleared medically, which raised some concerns about his willingness to play through pain and definitely frustrated his South Carolina coaches. Missed two games in his career with a nagging foot injury (reportedly bone spurs) which has bothered him since 2012.
Comments: Clowney is a special athlete with the raw tools to develop into a Hall of Famer. Assuming he stays healthy, the only thing that can come between him and greatness is himself. If he wants to put in the work and stays motivated, he will be a force in the NFL. That said, when college players lack motivation they very rarely change once they’re earning millions of dollars. It’s probably safe to assume that Clowney will never reach his full potential, but even 80% of Clowney’s full potential is probably still worthy of a top-10 pick.