Other than perhaps a tad of excessive confidence, there is nothing wrong with this sentiment or with Clowney's feeling this way about his pro prospects.
The discussion originated during an interview on the Dan Patrick Show, which CBS Sports' Will Brinson effectively captured:
'I'd really be happy anywhere I go. But if I go [to Atlanta] I'd be excited. I'd be close to home still,' Clowney said. 'I just think I should be the No. 1 pick taken overall in the draft.'
Asked specifically about going No. 1, Clowney was quite clear that he should go first overall.
'Yes sir, I should,' Clowney told fill-in host Chris Mannix.
Clowney's stock has been a bit of a roller coaster in the media the past two seasons, but stock is just that—perceptions in the media of how the NFL feels about prospects.
In NFL circles, the vibe about Clowney has likely never swayed.
The No. 1 overall pick is about a sure thing—landing a franchise centerpiece who will immediately turn the fortunes of a franchise in a positive direction.
Conventional wisdom says the top pick has to be a quarterback. Since the 2001 NFL draft, all but three top picks—Eric Fisher (2013), Jake Long (2008), Mario Williams (2006)—have been signal-callers.
But if a non-quarterback was to sneak into the first slot for the second year in a row, this year it would be Clowney.
The reasons are twofold. For one, quarterback is a mess. The consensus No. 1 overall pick was Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for quite some time, but he now faces questions that may knock him out of the running.
UCF's Blake Bortles, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Fresno State's Derek Carr are no sure things, either.
But the 6'6", 274-pound South Carolina product is a sure thing. In fact, the best term to describe Clowney is "rare," as Bleacher Report's Ryan Riddle details:
Riddle is far from alone in this analysis. Rotoworld's Josh Norris illustrates this point:
NFL evaluators do not care about Clowney’s fluctuating public perception. They know he was an outstanding prospect prior to “the hit,” and know he remains a rare talent despite many who cover the sport tearing down his 2013 season.
With that clear, how has Clowney fared on the field? In short, I still consider him a rare prospect, joining the likes of Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh, and Andrew Luck with that label.
Many may wonder how some can feel so highly about Clowney after what was a down year (13.5 sacks in 2012 to three in 2013). But flip on the film, and observers will see opposing teams, having discovered Clowney because of his dominance two years ago, throwing two or three men at Clowney on each and every down in an effort to neutralize his impact on the game.
It did not work. In fact, the majority of the tape will show teams simply refusing to run to his side of the field. While not a stat, there is no argument to be had that Clowney's presence does not impact a game in his defense's favor.
Those within the NFL concur. Perhaps most important of all, the man who holds the keys to the No. 1 overall pick likes what he sees from Clowney. Houston Texans owner Bob McNair has been vocal in his praise for Clowney, as captured by NFL.com's Chase Goodbread:
He's not a J.J. Watt. J.J. didn't have that natural (ability). He worked. He developed his. I said to J.J., 'I don't know what will happen but if we get Clowney, we want you to instill in him the same kind of work habits that you have.' He said, 'Well, if he's in the same room with me, he'll have them.'
He is a remarkable player. He's one of these players that is really a once-in-every-10-years kind of physical specimen that comes along. Mario Williams was that way. I think Clowney is actually a better athlete than Mario, so that kind of tells you what kind of player he can be.
These are the types of intangibles the NFL simply does not pass on at the top of a draft. There is a conversation to be had about whether or not the Texans will truly make Clowney the pick, especially with quarterback an obvious need on what is otherwise a very sound roster, but onlookers better believe Clowney is on the board.
Some talents transcend needs. Clowney is one such prospect. It is why a team like Houston, which already has J.J. Watt, would undoubtedly make the move. The same goes for the St. Louis Rams, owners of the No. 2 overall pick and star defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn.
The list goes on and on, but one thing is abundantly clear—not only is Clowney perfectly within his grounds to lay claim to the No. 1 spot, he must be considered a favorite.