Certainly the quarterbacks will hold center stage during the early part of the 2014 NFL draft, but could Jadeveon Clowney provide the most drama?
Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans already praising defensive end
Teddy Bridgewater. Johnny Manziel. Derek Carr. Blake Bortles. Jimmy Garoppolo. Those are the names that will dominate the first hour or so of the 2014 NFL draft when teams start going on the clock. Such is the nature of how important the quarterback position is. Eyes will watch the Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans to see if they try to move up to get one of their choosing. Such a fact overshadows the possibility that the quarterbacks might not be the only players teams will be pining for on May 8th. A simple fact is teams trade up when they see a player that can be a difference-maker. It doesn’t matter if they play offense or defense. Last year the Miami Dolphins jump to the #3 spot to draft the athletically dynamic Dion Jordan. The same could happen again this year, and it is almost certain to be South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney who will garner the love. Already teams like the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans have heaped praise on him, recognizing his obvious ability as a pass rusher and seeing the enormous potential he has at the next level. Indeed those who watch his college game tape see a player with the capacity to not only beat blockers, but run them over on every play, basically taking over games by himself. Such ability is very rarer and is the main reason why Clowney remains such a lofty target despite a pedestrian 2013 season for the Gamecocks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Viking have big pass rush needs
Already the defensive end has promised teams won’t be disappointed at the scouting combine next month. He plans to set records at the event and has the athletic prowess to do so. Such performances tend to have euphoric effects on certain teams, who immediately begin dreaming of the defenses they could build around such a talent. Make no mistake. Atlanta and Houston aren’t the only one considering him, and there will be one or two (or three or four) who will mull trading up to acquire him. The only question is who? With Lovie Smith now in charge of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he will certainly have an eye on Clowney. After all many scouts have compared him to Pro Bowler Julius Peppers, whom Smith coached for three seasons in Chicago. TampaBay would love to put a pass rusher next to Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Another possibility is the Minnesota Vikings. They aren’t shy about being aggressive for the right players. With Jared Allen expected to depart in free agency for a contender, they might feel compelled to replace him right away given their pass rush problems.
Jadeveon Clowney is by no means a superhero, but his near limitless ceiling almost can’t not attract attention in the 2014 NFL draft.