by Kent Sterling
South Carolina defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney ran a 4.53 40-yard dash today at the NFL Scouting Combine, and I could not care less.
Clowney balked at participating in some of the other drills because he said his hip flexor bothered him. So what.
In 2012, Clowney was one of the most disruptive defensive players in the history of college football, and in 2013 he was double and triple teamed. That matters.
Some are a little less than enamored with Clowney because there are questions about his work ethic. He was not exactly the first one in and last one out at practice for coach Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks, according to Spurrier.
In a league with enough parity that many games turn on one or two big plays, Clowney doesn’t need to go full tilt every snap – just that one or two when the stars line up for him to change the game.
There are a lot of NFL players who look like everyone else when you stand next to them. In fact, most are immediately unimpressive. When Clowney stopped next to me on his way to the podium on Saturday, I was awed. There is only one other NFL players about whom I mouthed “Wow!” when next to him, and that was Calvin Johnson.
They weigh and measure the same as other players, but just look different. Really different.
Those are the people you draft whenever it is your turn. They are difference makers, and difference makers win games.
Anyone who passes on Clowney because he was occasionally uninterested in a play here or there as he waited at South Carolina for his chance to play in the NFL is going to regret it forever.
The Texans need a quarterback in the worst way after having a Matt Schaub, Case Keenum, and T.J. Yates play in the worst way in 2013, but if they allow Clowney to slip out of their grasp because they decided to take one of the many mediocre quarterbacks available in this draft, Texans fans should cancel their season ticket renewals.
Can you imagine J.J. Watt and Clowney of either side of the same defensive line? The Indianapolis Colts sure as hell don’t want to.
And if somehow Houston goes for the short buck by tabbing Johnny Manziel as their latest quarterback of the future, the St. Louis Rams must take the most dynamic player in the draft. That they already have Robert Quick and Chris Long on as defensive ends is overthinking things. Sure they need safeties and an offensive lineman, but it just doesn’t matter.
The only reason the Rams should pass on Clowney is if some GM makes an offer similar to that made in 2012 for the #2 pick. The Redskins swapped the #6 and #39 picks in that draft, what became the 22nd pick, and the #2 pick they are currently deciding how to employ. Other deals for picks ensued, and many picks were gathered.
If the Rams can parlay this into a similar bounty from the Atlanta Falcons, who currently own the #6 pick – you can’t pass that up. This is a crazy deep draft, according to experts, and spinning the #2 into three or four others through a series of trades similar to the rest of the work done by Rams GM Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher, it makes sense to do it.
The point is that Clowney is a freak who stands out loitering in a hallway among other giants, and is the one player in this draft whose transcendent talent makes him a no-brainer.
No reasonable person needs a workout to know that Clowney is going to be a magnificent professional football player – certainly not the archaic set of drills they are asked to participate in.
One of the 32 teams will wind up with this young man raising hell in opponents’ backfields, and the rest will wish they had.