On Eve of Draft Day, All Eyes Remain on Clowney

Posted May 7, 2014

With less than 24 hours until the NFL Draft, Jadeveon Clowney remains at the center of attention.

With the months preceding the NFL draft behind us, there has been no shortage of shuffling, re-sorting and other means of adjusting the first round of assorted mock drafts throughout media circles.

Through that process, there has been one discernible constant—Jadeveon Clowney enters this week as likely the most dynamic player available.

PHOTOS: #RamsDraft Prospect: Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney’s draft profile has elicited effusive praise from media draft analysts throughout the NFL offseason, and that sentiment has only increased during the week of the draft.

“Clowney is the most talented defensive lineman I’ve ever evaluated, and you simply don’t get many opportunities to take a player of his ability,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said in his most recent mock draft.

The South Carolina defensive end has been a presumptive top-five selection since his sophomore year with the Gamecocks, when he amassed 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss.

Though his junior season didn’t match that of his breakout sophomore year, Clowney proceeded to check every available box during the pre-draft process, impressing numerous teams with his performances at the NFL Combine and at South Carolina’s pro day. Clowney has drawn many comparisons to another talented pass-rusher who played under Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher—former Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse.

It’s no secret that the Rams have given Clowney plenty of consideration, should he fall to the second overall pick. Whether that becomes a reality remains a fair question, as the Texans could figure to choose between Clowney and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack for the first pick, if they elect not to select one of multiple quarterback options. Though Houston holds the keys to the draft with the first overall pick, the Texans’ decision regarding Clowney could be the single greatest outside factor in determining the Rams’ first-round approach.

Where Houston elects to go with the first pick will have a direct effect on the Rams’ approach, and general manager Les Snead allowed that the decision regarding Clowney likely holds more sway than any other player in the first round.

“If they take Clowney, we do probably have a couple players we can take, and we can also weigh some trade possibilities,” Snead said while meeting with NFL Network at the Rams facility on Tuesday morning. “If Clowney is there, that would be a nice bonus. We’ve run through all of those scenarios, and we’ll be ready to either pick or move out. At (pick) Two this year, it’s a nice place to be. It’s a high-class problem.”

While the Rams already feature what is arguably the league’s best set of defensive ends in the league with Robert Quinn and Chris Long, the addition of Clowney would create an even more dynamic pass rush for a team that finished third in the NFL with 53 sacks in 2013.