First Round: First pick
NFL Comparison: Julius Peppers, DE, Green Bay Packers
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- Strong track record of production/disruption, despite lack of sacks in 2013.
- Is a physically sculpted specimen, prototype build.
- Explosive in his movements with elite lateral quickness.
- Significant strength generated from both upper and lower body.
- Instinctive defender with fine play-recognition skills.
- Exploits opponents' deficiencies on the regular.
- Generates speed and power as a rusher.
- Aggressive with his hands, will jolt pass-blockers on first contact.
- Will bat blockers’ hands to swim as a rusher.
- Unpredictable with quickness to set up rushes one way and dart back the other.
- Is quick into contact on direct rushes and fires hands consistently.
- Flashes upside as a power rusher who can attack the chest of pass-blockers and press the pocket from the outside.
- Effective on twists and stunts.
- Has a fine sense of timing for getting his hands up to bat passes.
- Devastating ability to split gaps by coming off the ball quickly and sinking pads.
- Maintains space with a lateral step on lunging run blocks and swims in incredible fashion, redirects with fine balance once past the blocker.
- Fine technique of leveraging blocks and keeping outside shoulder free to set the edge.
- Can engage multiple run-blockers and not give ground.
- Very decisive as unblocked defender, picks up on play design well.
- Impactful pursuer of the ball when motor is running hot.
- Makes high-impact tackles that frequently jar the ball loose.
- Physical dominance has held back his need to develop technically.
- Use of his hands overall is rather undeveloped or raw.
- Isn’t necessarily a speed rusher despite a fine get-off.
- Doesn’t bend with flexibility to turn the corner.
- Lacks a variety of pass-rush moves even if able to get a tackle on his heels.
- Needs to finish pass-rush moves with more precise hand usage.
- Can be slow into contact when rushing from wider alignments.
- Played from right end with hand in the dirt, was not moved around to highlight versatility very often.
- Overly reliant on his swim move against run and pass, often exposing his ribs or chest.
- Doesn’t consistently stack and shed at the line of scrimmage while controlling gaps, is more of a penetrator.
- Struggles to break down and make tackles in space, stays high in pursuit.
- Likes to go for the knockout blow as a tackler, which leads to missed tackles.
- Gave questionable effort at times in 2013 trying to play through injury and facing regular double-teams.
- Had some stamina issues early in the season.
- 5-star recruit and consensus No. 1 overall player in 2011 recruiting class, per 247Sports.
- 2012 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and unanimous All-American.
- Has been ticketed twice for speeding since early December.
- Often criticized for a lack of effort and/or trying not to get hurt in 2013.
- Plagued by injuries in 2013, including bone spurs in his foot and a rib injury.
Clowney is as physically talented as any edge-rusher prospect in recent memory. The dip in his production as a junior will be something that teams must inquire about, but a combination of injuries and offensive game-planning played a big role in that. His immense talent and high ceiling at a premier position should mean he won’t wait long to hear his name called.
Draft Projection: 1st Round