It wasn’t that long ago that Jadeveon Clowney was considered a lock to be the top overall pick in the NFL draft. Heck, many people felt he would have been the top overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft had he been eligible.
What a difference a year makes.
Between decreased stats, a conflict about sitting out a game, and questions over his work ethic, Clowney is no longer a lock for the top spot or even to be taken in the top five of the 2014 draft. Greg A. Bedard had a great feature on Clowney’s pro prospects for SI’s Monday Morning Quarterback (it’s a very good read if you’re interested in Clowney), and the consensus from the NFL execs he spoke to is that Clowney is actually a gamble.
Among the interesting notes from Bedard’s feature: Clowney is viewed as a fit for a 4-3 defense; there are questions about the South Carolina defensive end’s maturity; and there are a lot of questions about his desire. What makes Clowney tick — the money or the desire to be great — is the biggest question teams will try to decide when evaluating him.
“I think there’s flashes of brilliance and flashes of extreme inconsistency,” an AFC general manager told Bedard. “I mean, it’s a boom or bust thing.”
Is the GM saying Clowney is boom or bust as a draft pick, or that he’s boom or bust during games? And if a player is a bust during games but makes enough big plays, is that enough to outweigh the inconsistency? Those are questions teams will have to answer.
I still think Clowney is a physical specimen who will be a difference-maker in the NFL. I think he’ll be a Pro Bowler and a guy I’d want my team to draft. His questionable desire is probably the difference between him being a Pro Bowler a handful of times and becoming a Hall of Famer, but he should still have a fine career.