The consensus best player in the draft is University of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. At 6'6", 274 pounds, Clowney may very well be the best athlete at the position...ever—or at least according to virtually every media outlet in existence.
He's a unique blend of size, speed, agility, power and instincts. He's been a star since his junior year of high school, and he has never ceased to amaze along the way. That is until this past season.
After accumulating 21 sacks in his first two seasons, Clowney only managed three in his final one. When you take into account that he once had 4.5 in one game (against Clemson his sophomore year), his lack of production becomes even more puzzling.
While sacks aren't everything, as Clowney is very effective against the run, they are what teams seek from elite ends.
In Clowney's defense, his hype undoubtedly went to epic proportions due to the hit he put on a University of Michigan running back in the Outback Bowl, as seen here on Saturdaydownsouth.com. What people failed to realize is that he was virtually shutdown in that game by left tackle Taylor Lewan.
After the highlight of the hit was played ad nauseum, the media dubbed Clowney a once-in-a-generation prospect, and he was subsequently featured on every show and magazine possible. It was impossible for him to live up to that type of hype.
And when you consider players like Aldon Smith (San Francisco 49ers) and Von Miller (Denver Broncos), who have rewritten the record books in their first few seasons in the NFL, calling Clowney a once-in-a-generation player seems a bit silly.
But with that said he's perfect for Atlanta.
The city is driven by stars and getting one at a primary position of need will be worth its weight in gold. While there are other players who fit the scheme better (e.g. UCLA's Anthony Barr and Buffalo's Khalil Mack), Clowney may be worth tailoring the scheme to fit his needs.
But ignoring the lack of production, among other things, is something the pundits shouldn't do, although they undoubtedly will as players are drafted on potential—and Clowney has loads of it.
Other Options: Adrian Hubbard (Alabama)
Hubbard is a tweener that has played outside linebacker in a 3-4-based alignment. He has the athleticism to put his hand in the dirt or operate in space as he did with the Crimson Tide.