Height: 6ft 6in
Junior – South Carolina
Apply any superlative to Jadeveon Clowney and the chances are that it will be perfectly appropriate. Clowney is a wrecking ball from the defensive end position. Standing at 6’6″, he not only has the prototypical size and length for a defensive end in the NFL, but also exceptional strength and an explosive first step.
Explosive is the word that best describes how agile Clowney is. He moves so well that he is often able to beat blockers without even laying a hand on them. His first step is so good that at the collegiate level, he beat most left tackles off the snap. Despite his huge size and strength, Clowney is able to make himself ‘skinny’. He is able to weave his way through traffic to either track down a running back or the quarterback.
Clowney really is a scarily good athlete for his size, and is happy to get downfield and make tackles, or shift through traffic to get to the ball carrier. The only negative to say is that there are times in space when Clowney can be shaken out of a tackle. – 10/10
While he wasn’t asked to drop into coverage much at South Carolina, he is certainly agile enough that you could ask him to drop into zone on the odd occasion. I wouldn’t advise doing this much simply because you would be minimizing the impact he has as a ferocious wrecking ball on the line of scrimmage. – 8/10
Clowney is able to rush the passer in a variety of ways, and there really isn’t much that he can’t do. His hands and punch are both excellent, and he explodes with power out of his stance. More often than not he is so quick off the snap that he has the tackle already beaten at which point they are at his mercy.
Clowney is quick and agile enough that he can bend the edge and flatten himself to get round the corner. His swim and rip moves in particular are devastating. His power can be seen in his bull rush where he will often just march the tackle back into the quarterbacks path. Clowney is such a good athlete that at times he seemed to almost forget any pass rushing moves as such and would just beat blockers either with his speed off the snap or just his sheer power. In the pros he will be asked to use more of his pass rushing repertoire to beat blockers but he has such an array of ‘moves’ that this will not be an issue at all. – 10/10
Read and React
Clowney is not just a phenomenal athlete, as he also understands blocking schemes and assignments, leverage concepts etc. For the most part Clowney is very good at diagnosing plays, and often when he does ‘read’ a play he is so quick to react that he makes a huge impact play. – 8/10
Through his 3 years at South Carolina Clowney amassed 47 tackles for loss. 47! This year teams were determined to run away from Clowney to limit his impact, which would often lead to Clowney chasing down plays from the backside. What makes Clowney so dangerous vs the run is that he seems to live in the backfield. Once in the backfield, running backs aren’t going to look forward to a collision with Clowney – just ask Vincent Smith.
Clowney is strong and lengthy enough that he has no trouble holding the point of attack. When a play is going away from him Clowney has the speed to get downfield and make the tackle without any problem.There is the rare occasion where his pad level can be a bit high, as against Missouri there were a couple of plays when the blocker gets underneath Clowney and drove him downfield, but this is nit picking.
As already mentioned, Clowney isn’t the most comfortable in space and can be prone to miss the occasional tackle in space but this is only occasional and often is as a result of him blowing up a play with his penetration in the first place. Clowney is just as explosive and effective as a run defender as he is a pass rusher, and it is this that ultimately makes him such a well rounded prospect. – 9/10
Clowney is so agile and has such good strength, power and punch in his hands that blockers do very well to keep their hands on Clowney for any period of time. In fact, if the tackle has his hands on Clowney then he is doing well because it means Clowney didn’t beat off the snap. For the most part Clowney is very good at separating himself from blocks, and this year he would often have to separate himself from not just one but a multitude of blocks as teams sent fleets of player to try and slow him down.
When separating blocks Clowney’s length is such a huge asset, and there are times when you think a blocker has Clowney beaten, only for him to extend his arms and just push the tackle away. This year there were times when Clowney would be double teamed by the tackle and guard and Clowney would use a one handed swat to separate himself from both blockers to make his way into the backfield.
One thing you do notice in instances like this is just how well Clowney can slip through gaps, making himself as small a target as possible for opposing lineman. He is excellent at creating space for himself with his length and then roles his hips through contact to get into the backfield. – 9/10
For a player so big, Clowney is going to run a stupid 40 time at the combine (if he runs). He really is lightning fast for his position and is able to use his speed to beat almost any player. Off the snap Clowney is lightning fast, but what he really excels at is converting this speed into power. He has the speed and flex to bend the corner and flatten himself. Everything Clowney does, he does with speed and power, and at the college level the combination of the two was simply too much for many to handle.
Clowney was slowed by a foot injury this year and so at times his play did slow down (or he was moved inside). He is however getting the bone spurs removed so his speed and explosiveness will return to 100% after this procedure. – 10/10
Clowney has excellent strength and is excellent at combing it with his speed and length. His punch with his hands is excellent, as is his ability to hold the point of attack. His bull rush is a very good example of his exceptional strength when he will get underneath the tackle and simply reverse the tackle into the backfield. His strength alone is scary, add it with his speed and frame and you really see just how phenomenal a player Clowney is. – 9/10
When you think Clowney and tackling the first word that comes to mind is impact. It seems every game Clowney would make a thunderous hit on a running back, often several yards behind the line of scrimmage. His tackling is generally very solid, and he is able to track down runners in traffic and make the tackle. His tackles are very rarely broken and he is always just one play away from making a bone crunching highlight reel hit. The only negative on his tackling once again comes from his slight struggles in space where he can occasionally miss a tackle in open space. However, for the most part his tackling is very good. – 8/10
Clowney has been arrested twice for speeding in the last month. On December 7th he was arrested for driving at 110mph in a 70mph zone. He was then arrested again for driving at 85mph in a 55mph zone. Now whilst this isn’t the greatest thing for a high profile draft prospect to be doing, personally I don’t see it as being the end of the world. He is after all just a kid, and if were being honest, how many of us speed? At the end of the day Clowney was stupid but this really shouldn’t affect his draft stock too much, if at all.
Clowney did also miss 2 games this year and 1 game last year. He is having the bone spurs in his foot removed and so he should be back to 100% healthy ready for the 2014 season. Clowney is extremely scheme diverse, but his best fit is as a 4-3 DE, whilst he has the ability to play both OLB in a 3-4 as well as some 5-tech. He is a defensive coordinator dream as you can move him all over the line, play him inside and out and he will have a positive impact.
Clowney’s motor is extremely good. He is happy to make the plays downfield and is extremely active on every down. He will occasionally take plays off when the play is going away from him though, like any other lineman. – 7/10
To summarise, Clowney is a monster. He is the most talented player in this draft and is a special prospect at the defensive end position. He couldn’t live up to the hype train but then again no one could. But don’t be fooled, last year’s Clowney is still there. He is a once in a generation type of player. His strength, speed and size make him a formidable defensive weapon and one that every coach would welcome onto their team.
88/100 (Top five pick)