Football critics, including his own head coach, have been quick to attack Jadeveon Clowney this season, pointing to a dip in production and a supposed lack of effort as signs that he's overrated and might not be the home-run NFL prospect some (if not all) trumpeted him as before the year.
But that's ridiculous.
Clowney's draft stock is just fine, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, who quotes unnamed NFL sources that have no concerns over his slow start to the year.
From Pelissero's piece:
"Nah, no one will care," an executive in personnel for an NFL team told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday. "If he's healthy, works out well and most importantly interviews well, it won't hurt him."
A second NFL executive echoed: "No one cares. He's injured."
Clowney, who finished the 2012 season with 13.0 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss (plus one famous hit), has just 2.0 and 3.0 through four games played this season.
He sat out Saturday's 35-28 win over Kentucky with a rib injury, though some have given him grief for not "toughing it up" and joining his teammates on the field.
Spurrier's passive-aggressive comments in the postgame presser didn't help:
The Clowney backlash is kind of interesting. Before the season, back when Johnny Manziel was the criticized college athlete du jour, Clowney was used as his dramatic foil.
Johnny Football was the one with an attitude problem that might hurt his team, and Clowney was the soft-spoken warrior who shut his mouth and took care of business on Saturdays.
Manziel is still far from being taciturn, but it's been odd to watch as those roles have reversed. A few bad games—which weren't even that bad—and grumbles to the media were enough for people to swing 180 degrees on Clowney as a player, prospect and person.
It's nice to hear these NFL sources shut up all that blather. Clowney is amazing. He's a beast. There is no physical specimen like him, and there hasn't been for quite some time.
He will not drop out of the top three picks in April's NFL draft.
If a team that likes its quarterback selects No. 1, Clowney will be the easy choice.
If a team that hates its quarterback selects No. 1, he will still be duly considered.
End of story.
(Or at least it should be).