For whatever reason, Jadeveon Clowney has turned into everyone's favorite punching bag this offseason.
Even after the former South Carolina defensive lineman did everything possible throughout the draft process to prove the hype was real, Clowney has been criticized for everything from his effort to his decision making behind the wheel of a car.
But recent allegations from ESPN's Merril Hoge accuse Clowney of simply not being a good football player, per Evan Silva of Rotoworld:
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
Calling out a player's work ethic? Maybe. Saying he's making bad decisions? Fair game. Saying that a guy who recorded 13 sacks in a season at the college level is an "atrocious" football player? Yeah, no. That's not going to fly.
Oh, then there's a former defensive end in Warren Sapp that recently decided to throw in his own jabs at Clowney, per The Houston Chronicle:
My grandfather taught me something a long time ago. He said "You will never get more money by doing less work." I look at Jadeveon Clowney’s (game) tape and I don’t see a guy that is playing the game with his hair on fire, making plays, running up and down the field sideline to sideline, doing all of the things.
Tell us how you really feel, Sapp.
But here's the thing: Even with all of that criticism, Clowney is still well deserving of being the No. 1 prospect in the 2014 class.
After living up to the hype throughout his entire college career, the 21-year-old worked hard and put up impressive numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine. Clowney posted a 4.53 40-yard dash and did everything necessary to impress scouts—but that apparently wasn't enough to steer clear of criticism.
That, along with his track record from college, was enough to earn extremely high remarks from one league personnel director, according to Ed Werder of ESPN:
One NFL personnel director told me that Jadeveon Clowney should be No. 1 overall even if Andrew Luck were included in this year's draft.— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) April 23, 2014
And while others have beaten down on Clowney, one of the longest tenured draft analysts has put him up on a pedestal.
Mel Kiper of ESPN spoke about Clowney's athleticism and effort based upon what he's seen, per Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer:
Kiper says Clowney gave good effort on 90 percent of plays. Believes the other 10 percent were plays run away from him.— Joe Person (@josephperson) April 23, 2014
More Kiper on Clowney: "He's a once every 20 years" player.— Joe Person (@josephperson) April 23, 2014
Is Clowney worthy of the No. 1 pick?
The 6'6", 249-pound lineman offers any NFL team the ability to be a game changer on any given Sunday. With his size and speed, he has every asset a team needs to become the No. 1 overall pick on May 8 when the draft officially starts.
Whether or not the Houston Texans believe he would make a perfect fit for their team—pairing him with J.J. Watt would be disastrous for the AFC South—he will be a star at the NFL level for whichever team takes him in the top five.
With a chip on his shoulder and the immense talent to excel at the next level, Clowney will undoubtedly wreak havoc on the entire NFL. You might say he'll make the league his own personal punching bag.
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