One of the most dominant–and controversial–players in all of college football is Jadeveon Clowney, the star defensive end at South Carolina.
Clowney is best known for his big hit last season against the Michigan Wolverines, which was ESPN’s top play for nearly the entire offseason. That hit earned Clowney sort of an “Andrew Luck” status for a defensive player, everyone guaranteeing he’d be the top player selected in 2014 and some even suggesting he should sit this season out so as to avoid potential injury.
It truly was a circus surrounding Clowney, and the hype only built as the offseason progressed. It was reported that the 6’5″ 270 pound kid down at SC ran a 4.5 second 40-yard dash at offseason workouts.
There was nothing Clowney could do wrong until he stepped on the field this season, and he’s not been quite as productive as he was last year, nor has he had any big hits like he had against Michigan.
Obviously, he’s not the prospect he was in 2012 (SARCASM ALERT).
Clowney is still by far the best prospect in next year’s draft, including one Teddy Bridgewater, who will be the top pick based on the fact that he plays the most important position in the NFL. In fact, there might be a few players taken ahead of Jadeveon Clowney simply because teams are so desperate for quarterbacks right now in the NFL.
John Fox knows a thing or two about dominant collegiate pass rushers. In his first year with the Carolina Panthers, the team selected former North Carolina Tar Heels star Julius Peppers, who has gone on to have a Hall of Fame career. In Fox’s first year with the Broncos, the team selected Von Miller with the second overall pick. Miller was suspended the first six games of the season, but had 30 sacks in his first two seasons with the Broncos and is well on his way to a Hall of Fame career if he wants it badly enough.
So, I pose the question–with the Broncos most certainly not picking in the top 20 this season, perhaps not even in the top 30, would it be worth it to make a big move for Clowney, who is undeniably the top defensive prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft?
There are a few things to consider, so I’ll lay them out.
1. Peyton Manning
How much longer will Manning play? He signed a five-year deal, and entering 2014, he’ll be in the third year of that deal. If Manning plays until he is 40 (he easily could), that would give the Broncos another three years with him as the QB and three more years with which to develop someone underneath him.
2. Future Draft Picks
How valuable are the Broncos’ future first-round draft picks? Is it worth giving up a 2014 and 2015–dare I say a third in 2016?–draft pick to get Clowney? Certainly draft weekend wouldn’t be as fun for Broncos fans, especially me because I’m obsessed with the draft.
3. Future Contracts
The Broncos need to be able to afford their current star players that are due for pay days. Before 2016, the Broncos will need to get new contracts to Von Miller, Demaryius Thomas, Wesley Woodyard, DRC, etc., etc…
4. Future Roster Depth
Of course, dealing a lot of premiere draft picks for one player will poke holes in your future roster depth. Are the Broncos good enough now to afford that?
I think it would be a serious long-shot to think the Broncos will try and trade up for a guy like Jadeveon Clowney, especially because some team picking that high isn’t probably going to want to trade the pick away anyway. However, it’s something to consider as defensive end is almost assuredly the Broncos’ top need going into next offseason.
Getting a star like Clowney and adding him to a unit that features Von Miller is a very enticing thought, but probably more of a pipe dream than anything else.