- Pat McManamon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Player: Jadeveon Clowney (going in alphabetical order)
Position/College: Defensive end, South Carolina
Combine impression (1-10, 10 the best): 9.8.
Likelihood he’s there at Browns fourth pick: 10 percent.
Other teams interested: What team is not interested?
The skinny: There is surprisingly little chatter about Clowney and the Cleveland Browns.
Perhaps it’s because of the team’s needs on offense, starting with quarterback and running through receiver and running back. Perhaps it’s because few expect Clowney to get past the first two picks. The belief is either Houston takes him first and pairs him with J.J. Watt, or the Atlanta Falcons will trade up with St. Louis, from the No. 6 overall pick to No. 2, to take him.
Clowney is some kind of athlete. His 4.53-second 40-yard dash was faster than some receivers, and he’s 266 pounds.
The guy is an aggressive, attacking pass-rusher with the bravado of a guy who believes he’s worthy of every word written about him.
But -- and there is always a “but” about every draft pick -- Clowney decided not to do some drills, and arrived with the burden of his college coach making an offhand reference to him not being the hardest worker.
He has the reputation for turning it on when he wants to -- the 40 -- and turning it off when he doesn’t. The publicity over one hit against Michigan in a 2013 bowl game almost seems to have propelled his career. Some scouts wonder how a guy with his ability can have just 3.5 sacks his final season.
“I wasn’t worried about my stats really,” Clowney said. “A lot of game-changing went on when we played teams. Quick passes, two-on-one, opposite-side runs, but that happens. I wasn’t really worried about my stats, I just wanted to win.”
And as he pointed out, South Carolina did go 11-2 and finish fourth in the country for the first time in its history.
The biggest question with Clowney might be how he’s used, and whether he can play every down in a 3-4 defense. He had his hand on the ground at South Carolina, and in a 3-4 he would probably be light for a defensive end, where his skills would be wasted in a two-gap system that asks linemen to plug the run and let linebackers tackle.
That doesn’t mean a clever coordinator couldn’t make use of Clowney’s skills. It’s pretty much why coaches are hired, and Clowney promises he can play standing up (as a linebacker).
Either way, in time it would seem that if he is dedicated, he would grow into a fierce pass-rusher.
If he’s there at the fourth pick, it would certainly force the Browns to make an interesting decision between a defensive player like Clowney, a quarterback, and perhaps receiver Sammy Watkins.
Clowney used three words to explain why he should be the choice: The Super Bowl.
“Defense won that game, shut them down, shut them out,” he said of Seattle’s win against Denver. “It takes defense to win championships, hands down. You had a great quarterback in Peyton Manning, hats off to him also, but defense wins the Super Bowl.”