The Houston Texans have taken a big step toward solidifying their defense by drafting Jadeveon Clowney out of South Carolina with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft.
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora provided news of the team's selection:
The Clowney selection is official. Rams up— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) May 9, 2014
The Texans announced what jersey Clowney will wear:
#Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney will wear number 90.— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) May 9, 2014
Throughout the pre-draft process, it seemed like everyone had an opinion on Clowney one way or the other. Most scouts seemed to marvel over the defensive end's pure athleticism and expect that this will translate into success in the NFL.
At the combine, the 6'6", 266-pound athlete ran the 40-yard dash in just 4.53 seconds to lead all defensive linemen (as well as many running backs). He also posted impressive numbers in the broad jump and vertical jump to showcase his explosiveness.
He proved this same type of athleticism at his pro day with some incredible drills:
ICYMI: Jadeveon Clowney jumps 7 bags. Stationary. EASY. What. An. Athlete. WATCH: http://t.co/mkv8XEN1cu— NFL (@nfl) April 3, 2014
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller explained at the time that he was a clear top-three pick:
Pro Day shouldn't move Clowney up any boards, but it should validate athleticism. He shouldn't make it out of the top 3 picks.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 2, 2014
Even more people were on board with the fact that Clowney deserved to be taken No. 1 overall, but no one had a better argument than the player himself. According to David Newton of ESPN.com, the defensive end explained:
I can pretty much do it all. Anything on defense I can help. I can be a playmaker. I am a playmaker. I've got what it takes, I believe, to go out there and set the tone for the next guy coming up. And to help my team out winning games.
Every team I've ever played with, we've never had a losing season. Never. Before I got there, I watched them lose. Not just here. Back in high school, middle school. I was like, 'Man, that ain't going to be my team when I play on that team.'
This confidence to go with his ability is a reason for fans to be excited about the player's future. Everyone is also hoping to see more plays like this at the NFL level:
In honor of Jadeveon Clowney's pro day here is his famous hit...on repeat.! https://t.co/0FDjaUAR1Y— SportsNation (@SportsNation) April 2, 2014
On the other hand, there seemed to be just as many people doubting Clowney's ability to succeed as a professional. Evan Silva of Rotoworld notes the view of ESPN's Merril Hoge:
ESPN's Merril Hoge called Jadeveon Clowney's fundamentals "atrocious." "Not a very good football player .. Gets controlled & trucked a lot."— Evan Silva (@evansilva) April 21, 2014
People in the NFL have also questioned Clowney's work ethic. Mark Eckel of The Times of Trenton quotes an NFC personnel man who said of Clowney:
He’s spoiled, and he’s lazy. He’s never worked hard a day in his life, now all of a sudden you’re going to give him a bunch of money and expect him to work hard. I don’t see it.
Oh, he’s going to be a high pick. Some team will fall in love with him. But wait and see, just wait and see. I just don’t think you can count on him. I’m betting the under on him.
The fact that he finished the 2013 season with just three sacks after totaling 21 in his first two years at South Carolina remains a red flag as well. Then again, it could also mean that he faced a lot more attention from opposing offenses in the form of double- and triple-teams.
Despite this back and forth, the Texans obviously believe Clowney has the potential to be an impact player on the defensive side of the ball. Pairing him with JJ Watt will make it a nightmare for opposing offenses to prepare.
As long as he remains healthy, the defensive end should find himself in the starting lineup in Week 1 with the ability to be a key contributor for the improving team. He will also enter the year as one of the favorites to take home the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Things will not be easy for Clowney against much better opposing linemen on every roster. However, he can be a star for his new team if he is able to live up to his massive potential.
Obviously the bar is set high for Clowney, as the Texans have elected to pass on selecting their quarterback of the future, at least for the time being.
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