NFL Experts Explain What Makes Jadeveon Clowney So Good

After ripping him for the better part of six months, the NFL world is now resigned to the fact that Jadeveon Clowney is the best player in the NFL draft.

All the big media experts have him No. 1 on their big boards. And there are now rumours that the Texans will take him No. 1 overall even though defensive line isn’t their biggest need.

The consensus on Clowney is simple: He’s a once-in-a-generation athlete that’s too big, strong, and fast to pass up. He’s 6’6″ and 270 pounds (the size of an NBA power forward) and he runs as fast as a running back. Because of that size and speed, he’s unblockable in open space and he can often overwhelm offensive lineman with speed even though he doesn’t have the best fundamentals.

In short, he’s a freak. As ESPN’s Ron Jaworski put it, “He’s LeBron James with a football helmet on.”

Here are some scouting reports on Clowney from experts in different facets of the NFL world. They will give you a good idea of what makes the ex-South Carolina defensive end so good.

Ron Jaworwski, ESPN commentator, former NFL quarterback (via Yahoo):

“Jadeveon Clowney to me, of all the players I’ve looked at, he’s LeBron James with a football helmet on. The guy can absolutely dominate a football game. Incredible speed and quickness off the football. … He’s got power. He’s got quickness. He’s an incredible athlete. … He can reach over offensive lineman and make tackles and get to the quarterback.”

James Franklin, Penn State head coach, coached against Clowney at Vanderbilt (via MMQB):

“I coached in the ACC when Julius Peppers was at North Carolina, so in a lot of ways I was thinking there was similarities between him and Clowney. With Peppers, we always felt like you were better off running at him, not away. He was so athletic, he could run you down. I remember two years ago, we took the same approach with Clowney. We said we’re going to try to get him to rush up the field and then get a guard or somebody to kick him out and then that would be a great plan. I’ll tell you what: He destroyed us. Physically destroyed us. Running at him, running away from him.”

Stephen White, retired NFL player (via SB Nation):

“This kid is friggin’ amazing in space. I’m not sure a left tackle or tight end successfully blocked him a single time in space in any of the games that I watched. He jumps inside so quickly that the opposing player just doesn’t have enough time to react. When he chooses to stay outside against a block in space, he just about always holds the edge and quite a few times ends up making the tackle for a loss.”

Bucky Brooks, former NFL scout (via

“He overwhelms blockers with his initial quickness and burst, which he leads to spectacular hits and disruptive plays when he correctly anticipates the quarterback’s decision on zone-read plays. Additionally, Clowney’s explosiveness and acceleration allows him to track down runners from the backside on perimeter runs to opposite direction. Although he often fails to make the play when chasing, the closing quickness displayed a 275-pound defender jumps off the screen.”

Josh Norris, Rotoworld NFL Draft guru (via SI):

“I consider Clowney a ‘rare’ prospect. I almost never use that word in terms of a full evaluation. Prospects can have rare traits, but very, very seldom is the total package ‘rare’. He will be the fourth I have evaluated. The others are Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh and Andrew Luck.”

Here’s that analysis in GIF form.

1. The hit.

2. An armpit deflection.

3. Against the run.

4. Beating a tackle with speed.

5. In high school, when the world wasn’t fair.

He was productive in college, largely on the strength of his athleticism. If NFL coaches can teach him some technique, he’s going to be terrifying.

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