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Jadeveon Clowney, the defensive lineman for the Gamecocks of South Carolina, has been generating quite a bit of conversation as of late. He is in the running as a first round draft pick along with other notables such as Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy recipient, Johnny Manziel, Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, and Teddy Bridgewater, the shot caller for the Louisville Cardinals. While #7 has made his mark at the collegiate level with big plays on the field, he has, at times, also come up short. Mr. Clowney has demonstrated a pension for lackadaisical effort and even taking the occasional play off, something that has made him a target for critics who say that he is not 1st overall draft pick material. As is the case with his peer, Johnny "Johnny Football" Manziel, Clowney has demonstrated that he is a monster talent as a football player, but not so much as a mature young man.
There have also been grumblings that Jadeveon is not as technically sound as he could be considering that he has had three years to grow at the collegiate level. In addition, he has received a good amount of criticism for sitting out games due to supposed injuries that were questionable at best. David Whitley of Fox Sports claims that, "Clowney is soft. He doesn’t love football. He’s saving himself for the NFL. All the hype has gone to his head." Similar sentiment can be found within the upper echelons of the National Football League's front office. "I'd be scared to death to take him if I had a top-10 pick," one NFL personnel executive told Yahoo Sports.
The rumor mill has it that he is doing what any smart business man would do in anticipation of a big payday, protecting his investment. In this case, his investment is his body and in Jadeveon's mind, that means that he is not going to go out and risk injury on the eve of his entry into the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
Whatever the case may be with the young standout, both scouts and coaches alike are high on the Gamecocks defensive lineman believing that he has more upside than negatives, and in the end, Jadeveon Clowney may make history as one of the greatest to step foot on the gridiron.
6 Many Top Players Take Plays Off
There may be nothing more infuriating for both fans and coaches then seeing a megastar in the making hang back and take the occasional play off. This is agitating because sports fans want to see their heroes give it all they’ve got 1000 percent of the time; anything less is just unacceptable. Randy Moss was one of the biggest offenders in recent memory. Without shame, he routinely took plays off and during a 2006 press conference, even alluded to doing so. Randy stated, "My concentration and focus level tend to go down sometimes when I'm in a bad mood." Other notable greats who vacationed during plays include Terrell Owens, Albert Haynesworth, and Chad “OchoCinco” Johnson.
In regards to Clowney’s sometimes lackadaisical attitude on the field, the Sporting News reports, “Specifically, there's the overwhelming concern that Clowney saves himself -- or in the cliché of our times, "takes plays off." This has, "been a concern since he first stepped on the field at South Carolina, and looks much worse now”. All of this negative attention may be for not if Jadeveon can go on to achieve half of the career numbers of a Randy Moss and or a Terrell Owens.
5 Many Top Players Also had Off-the-Field Problems
Much like those who came before him, Jadeveon Clowney has been saddled with criticism for things away from the game of football. He comes from a broken family where his father has spent time incarcerated, leaving him to be raised by his mother. He has also been known to travel around with an entourage which may not be in his best interest considering the fact that he is trying to impress scouts and team owners. Sources state that, “his unusual family situation, his entourage, his inconsistent work ethic, and the fact that he has worn out his welcome at South Carolina" have all played a role in his kryptonite reputation with the NFL community.
And he has been playing it fast and loose on the road. According to WIS-TV in Columbia, S.C., "Clowney was pulled over Saturday night by the South Carolina Highway Patrol and cited for doing 110 mph in a 70 mph zone in his Chrysler 300". Some may chalk these issue up to things that are out of his control, and also the fact that he is really just acting like a normal, immature college kid, while others are speculating that this is just another example of a soon to be rich athlete who has no problem doing whatever the hell he damn well pleases. Only time will prove which speculators are correct.
Before the draft, even Dez Bryant had a variety of similar off the field issues, but he was able to work through it to become one of the most dominant WRs in the game. There has been hiccups along the way, but when a player has raw talent, sometimes we need to just believe in it.
4 Speed Lightning
Clowney is both a natural talent and a stellar physical specimen. At 6’5” and 274 pounds, he is no doubt a large man, but it is more of what he can do with that size that is astounding both National Football League scouts and coaches alike. At the recent NFL Combine, Clowney achieved staggering numbers for a man of his dimensions. He ran a 4.47 time in the 40-yard dash and according to ESPN, “That’s a blistering time for any defensive end…and would rank among the fastest by a defensive lineman at the combine in the last 10 years." While it may be impressive to have run a quicker time than other men at his football position, the really stupefying stat is that it was also faster than "56 running backs and receivers” What!
3 The Raw Talent is There
Besides his ungodly speed for a big man, Jadeveon may be one of the most naturally talented football players we have seen in a while. According to sources, he is “versatile – lines up everywhere along the line, and can win with strength, power, quickness and speed.” #7 is a guy who appears to be everywhere at once giving both running backs and quarterbacks cold sweats. One job of the defensive end is to keep the quarterback off balance and this is an area where Clowney lives. In 2012, Jadeveon was 2nd in sacks and 5th in forced fumbles in the SEC. He also does the little things that do not necessarily make the stat sheet. According to NFL.com, Clowney has the ability to “disrupt a quarterback's vision with long arms and can bat down balls”. He also “plays with leverage and power in his hands -- converts speed into power and bulls blockers into the backfield.” There are few athletes that can lay claim to as much raw talent as Mr. Clowney.
2 A Strong Mentor may Make Clowney One of the All-Time Greats
We have seen it time and time again; the newly minted millionaire athlete who comes into his success with the baggage of the old neighborhood, greedily extending its claws with a sense of entitlement. It starts out with the posse or entourage that surrounds the guy every waking moment, to make sure that he doesn't forget where he came from, and also to sponge off of his newly found success. However, while hanging with the old crew may sound like the cool thing to do, it could just as easily be a career/life wrecker; just ask recently retired NFL linebacker Ray Lewis. While hanging at a night club in Atlanta early in his career, Lewis and several men from his entourage got into it with some other club goers. The end result; two men lying dead in the street while Ray and his so called friends fled the scene. After some wrangling with the prosecution, Lewis' charges went from murder and aggravated assault to obstruction of justice and he received a slap on the wrist.
While a young Jadeveon Clowney may be at the mercy of the many fanatics, yes men, and sycophants that will surely seek him out for their own gain, he may also be positively influenced by a strong and mature mentor who can guide him towards a long and successful career both on and off the football field. Will Lewis reach out, hmm..?
1 Clowney IS the Real Deal
While he travels around with an entourage, has a lead foot in his Chrysler 300, and may not be on his game for every play, #7, Jadeveon Clowney is quite simply the real deal. It cannot be ignored that a 274 pound lineman was faster than 56 running backs and receivers at the recent NFL Combine. He does want to win and it has been said that he loves to please his teammates and staff. His upside far outweighs the negatives and it is without a doubt that any head coach in the National Football League would be more than pleased to be able to call his number. He is a young and very talented athlete who, with the proper guidance and leadership, may one day end up as one of the best athletes to line up on the gridiron.