After a terrific sophomore season in 2012, it was all but assured that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney would be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Clowney had his share of up and down moments in 2013 but he continued to prove that he had the ability to be taken No. 1 overall in the draft.
He was impressive at the NFL Scouting Combine, posting an official 4.53 40-yard dash, according to NFL.com. At 6'5" and 266 pounds, he combines impressive size with strength and speed. There is no doubt that he is the best pass-rusher in this draft but he may not find himself getting drafted until the Atlanta Falcons pick at No. 6.
I already suggested that the Houston Texans could select Blake Bortles with their No. 1 pick, leaving the St. Louis Rams as the next most logical choice. While Clowney could help bolster a pass-rush that already features Robert Quinn and Chris Long, the team may be better off going after Auburn's Greg Robinson to help shore up their offensive line.
The next three picks (Jacksonville, Cleveland and Oakland) all have needs at the quarterback position. Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr could all be in play, as could dynamic wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
Some are not convinced of Clowney's ability to catch on quickly at the next level and that was evident from this tweet from Lance Zierlein of Sports Talk 790 in Houston:
His ability to adapt in his rookie season is not the only concern as former Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage is fearful of his lateral movement, telling Chase Goodbread of NFL.com:
The question on Jadeveon Clowney in a nutshell is how much lateral change of direction does he have in space? Because there are films from this past year where he missed sacks when the quarterback moved and escaped on him.
Clowney may slide, not nescessarily because of his skill but more because of the needs of the teams at the top of the draft. If he slides to No. 6, the Atlanta Falcons and their fans will be dancing in the streets.