Best, Worst Case 2014 Draft Scenarios for Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney has had a relatively rough go during draft season.
The talented defensive end out of South Carolina has been dogged by questions about work ethic and a subpar junior season, at least from a statistical standpoint. He performed well at the combine, but it did little to stem the flow of negativity.
He has a chance to stop it at South Carolina's pro day this week. Where will he land in the draft, however? And which teams would be better or worse for the freakishly athletic pass-rusher?
Best Case: Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons need a pass-rusher. Badly.
Head coach Mike Smith's defense ranked 30th in sacks last season, a big reason the unit was so miserable all around. Nabbing a guy like Clowney could go a long way toward fixing that situation.
Atlanta has been rumored to be interested in a move up in the first round, perhaps to the No. 3 spot. Such a move could mean the Falcons want to address the pass-rusher situation early. It could also mean they want to ensure they can take one of the top offensive tackles, though.
If they do pull the trigger for Clowney—or if he somehow falls to them at No. 6—the former South Carolina defensive end would immediately get a chance to prove the naysayers wrong.
Worst Case: St. Louis Rams
The Rams aren't hurting at edge rusher.
St. Louis already has an up-and-coming star in Robert Quinn, who was barely second in the league in sacks last season. Chris Long has been a stalwart pass-rusher on the other side for the Rams, and William Hayes was an underrated commodity off the bench last season.
So where would Clowney fit in?
Quinn and Long would more than likely keep their starting gigs, and Clowney would be rotated in as needed along with Hayes. The Rams would be wise to get him on the field as often as possible, of course, but they might misuse him or stunt his development with all the options they have at the position.
Best Case: Houston Texans
The Houston Texans have a predicament on their hands. What should they do with the No. 1 pick?
Rumors swirl saying Houston wants to trade out of the top-overall pick, per NFL.com's Marc Sessler. This seems like an annual event these days, however, and it seems rather difficult to get out of that top spot.
Assuming they stay there, the Texans could use a quarterback. Matt Schaub is gone, replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick—not exactly a great situation for new head coach Bill O'Brien.
Should they choose to bolster the defense instead, however, Clowney would make an incredible addition. He would be able to showcase his talents and athleticism alongside or across from the best defensive lineman in the game: J.J. Watt.
Worst Case: Buffalo Bills
This seems like a far-fetched scenario given the Bills currently own the No. 9 pick. If Clowney falls that far, something would have gone wrong.
The Bills could trade up, of course, though why they would want to do that to draft another pass-rusher would be an interesting story to hear. There is no such thing as "too many pass-rushers" in the NFL, but the Bills were one of the teams that were particularly good at getting to the quarterback last season.
That defense was second in the league with 57 sacks and a 9.2 percent sack percentage. The pass rush was a big reason why the unit was fourth in DVOA, per Football Outsiders. Jerry Hughes, Manny Lawson and Mario Williams joined forces to devastating effect on that defensive front.
Of course, Clowney wouldn't hurt the defense, to be sure. But the Bills need to address other positions and Clowney might not see much development early in his career with the depth chart clogged up.
Best Case: Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders opened up new league year needing to address plenty on their roster.
They went about doing that on the defensive side by signing defensive ends Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Antonio Smith. This might make it seem like a similar situation to St. Louis or Buffalo, but not so fast.
Tuck is entering the twilight of his career, better against the run than the pass. Last year's statistics are a bit unreliable given the Raiders have overhauled half the unit, but Oakland was in the middle of the pack in sacks—thanks largely in part to now-departed Lamarr Houston—and 28th in pass defense.
Clowney would seemingly get on the field plenty for head coach Dennis Allen, and he would team up with Woodley to make a potentially devastating pass-rushing tandem. He would also benefit from having two veterans to mentor him at defensive end.