The draft stock for former South Carolina Gamecocks All-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has taken a number of hits after a disappointing junior season and as he prepares for the NFL combine later this month, scouts are questioning the impact he can make as a rookie.
While the majority of scouts believe the physical skills Clowney possesses and the production he had his first two seasons at South Carolina will still merit a top-five selection in the 2014 NFL draft, but not all are convinced he can be an immediate impact player who will live up to his prodigious hype.
According to Sports Illustrated:
“You really like what he brings to the table and what he could become: a perennial Pro Bowler and those type of things,” an NFC scout said. “But is he going to become a Day 1 starter? I really don’t know that. Aldon Smith, watching him in college, he was pretty raw, but he was further along, in my opinion, than Clowney is. But obviously, Clowney is more athletic than him, so I don’t know.
“He could be [Julius] Peppers in time,” the scout said. “But to say he’s going to walk in the league Day 1 and rip it up, tear it up, like Ndamukong Suh or Aldon Smith or Von Miller? It’s hard for me to say that … He’s not a better rusher than Von Miller.”
Each of these three defensive linemen were top seven picks with Suh and Miller going second, respectively, and it’s a safe assumption to say Clowney will fall in that top seven pick range, but it’s a far cry from the talk of a year ago when he was being talked about as a player who would have gone No. 1 last year.