The Atlanta Falcons are drowning for South Carolina phenom defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Not intentionally, of course. But it's happening, and the entire team will benefit from adding the freak athlete to the defense in 2014.
Explosion seemed to be something lacking from the 2013 defense—at least from the front seven. And bringing in a monster like Clowney would be similar to the impact Julio Jones brought to the team's offense.
If explosion is what the coaches want, the dominant South Carolina defensive end could bring it. So let's explore the full impact of what Clowney could bring to the Falcons:
|Jadeveon Clowney College Production|
|Tackles for Loss||12.0||23.5||6.5|
|Passes Broken Up||1||2||2|
There Are Questions About Clowney's Lack of 2013 Production
Now there are some questions about Clowney being purported by the media. Let's nip this right in the bud. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com asked different executives about how they felt about him. The one that put it best about Clowney's lack of production this season was Executive No. 3:
And there's no reason for him to not be the best in the NFL at what he does if he lands with the Falcons. Atlanta has players who can make sure he busts his hump every play and the depth at the position to rotate and keep him healthy.
Also, it's not like he hasn't been putting out good tape, despite his lack of statistics. Clowney impacts games in ways that show up on film but may not show up in the stat column. He doesn't have issues off the field. He doesn't have a motor issue.
Just get him healthy, get him in a rotation and get him in a spot where he has a challenge across from him every single play, and the Falcons will reap the rewards.
How Another Impact Player Helps
While the Falcons looked good in 2008 to 2010 on offense, there was still that missing piece. That explosive element was lacking. After trading up for Julio Jones in 2011, the Falcons offense has created many more explosive plays.
Unfortunately, you can see how the offense has been poor without the dynamic talent. Atlanta has seemingly designed its offense around its most explosive element and has had struggles adjusting without him.
The defense has been the same way with Kroy Biermann. When the versatile pass-rusher went down, the Falcons lost an element that had been vital for the past few seasons, but they are still missing an explosive game-changer on defense.
That's where the freakishly athletic junior Gamecock comes in. At 6'6", 275 pounds, Clowney reportedly has sub-4.5 speed and between that and his power off the line, the Falcons could have a lot of fun using his athleticism all over the field.
Adding another explosive player to the defensive core of William Moore, Thomas DeCoud, Robert Alford, Desmond Trufant, Biermann, Osi Umenyiora and Sean Weatherspoon will only allow Mike Nolan to get even more creative with his scheming. And this will give Atlanta a better defense.
How Clowney Fits the Falcons' Schemes
In terms of the Falcons' schemes, there is very little that Clowney can't do in Atlanta. It also seems like he wants to have more of a varied role in the pros, because he continually gets targeted if the coaching staff doesn't move him around the formations like it should.
He shouldn't have any issue with that with Mike Nolan running the defense. He won't just play both defensive end spots; he'll play the defensive tackle role in some cases. He'll play as a linebacker both inside and out. He might even drop deep into coverage.
Using the man's athleticism and keeping him interested in the ways he can attack the offense is going to be vital for Clowney's progression. He won't be bored by any means with all the different ways the Falcons would use him.
And on top of that, the Falcons will be able to keep him fresh with all of the depth that they have in the front seven. By rotating him out quite often and making sure his role in the defense isn't just varied in job, but also where he lines up, Nolan would maximize the stud defensive end.
And just looking at the depth, the fact that Atlanta could have another explosive element would be massive for a defensive resurgence. This could be another Grits Blitz style defense with Nolan at the helm and the talent that Clowney brings.
By having multiple guys who could play multiple fronts, the Falcons drowning for Clowney could be the best thing that has happened to the defense in years. All they need to do now is actually pull the trigger if the South Carolina beast falls to their pick.
If the Falcons continue to play like garbage, that should be pretty easy.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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