Although not the consensus No. 1 pick, many believe that Clowney will be selected first by the Houston Texans come May 8. ESPN’s Tedy Bruschi expressed his feelings about Clowney in this tweet and what he would do if he were in Houston’s shoes:
But what if the Texans decide to forgo the former Gamecock and go with a quarterback or linebacker? The next team in line is the St. Louis Rams, but they may be looking for an offensive tackle or wide receiver.
Of the top three picks, it is the Jacksonville Jaguars who can’t miss out on Clowney.
The Jaguars, who finished 4-12 last season after starting out 0-8, had a defense that was dreadful against both the run and the pass. They ranked in the bottom five of the NFL in total defense and were dead-last in sacks. This chart gives a clearer picture of how poorly the team performed defensively.
|Pass Defense Per Game||247.6||26|
|Rush Defense Per Game||131.8||29|
Clowney is a player who can help improve those numbers as the top pass rusher in the draft. At 6’6” and 274 pounds, the 21-year-old is in a league of his own. Even at his size he was able to run a 4.53 40-yard dash and post a vertical jump of 37.5 inches at his pro day on April 2.
His ESPN.com draft profile explains his exceptional skills against both the pass and the run. He frequently pushes offensive tackles into the backfield and is good at disrupting the run. This highlight video shows just how disruptive he can be against opposing offenses.
He only had three sacks during his junior campaign last season after collecting 13 in 2012 and eight during his freshman year in 2011. Critics have attributed the decline in his production to a poor work ethic, but Texans head coach Bill O’Brien doesn’t seem to think there is an issue with his commitment at all.
“I don’t have any concerns about his motor,” O’Brien said on SportsCenter. “There are 90 plays a game in college. You’d be hard-pressed to find a defensive lineman to go like his life’s on the line.”
O’Brien and Jacksonville’s Gus Bradley were the only two NFL coaches on hand for South Carolina’s pro day.
Although the Jaguars brought in Chris Clemons and re-signed Jason Babin, the team’s sack leader in 2013 (7.5), both players are at least 32 years of age. Jacksonville will need to add youth and depth at the defensive end position.
The offense is a mess too, but adding Clowney will provide a boost on defense. His speed and quickness can cause quarterbacks to be unsettled and could lead to more possessions due to turnovers and loss of yardage.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. says in this tweet that Clowney is a player that comes around once every 30 years. He is one of those players that would be hard for anyone to pass up or not consider going all-in in order to move up in the draft and snatch him.
The Jaguars have other needs as well, but if Clowney is available—or they are in a position where they can move up and grab the second pick—it is something they need to do.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.com
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