So far in his career, Jadeveon Clowney has not looked the part of a #1 overall pick. Part of that equation has been the injuries that have caused him to miss 13 games in his first season and a half. But even hen he is on the field, his play has left something to be desired.
In 11 career games, he has 28 tackles and one sack. Yep, just one. He has one fumble forced as well as three passes deflected and seven run stuffs. At the very least, he’s been decent against the run but you don’t draft a guy #1 overall to stop the run. You draft a guy there to get to the quarterback.
Before the 2014 draft, many critics out there questioned his love of the game and whether he really wanted to play football and be the best he could be. But his athletic ability and college production (as well as the fact there wasn’t a quarterback that screamed #1 overall pick) compelled the Texans to take Clowney with the top pick.
Looking back, perhaps that pick should have been used on Derek Carr (from simply a football perspective it might have made sense, however if they had drafted him all Texans fans would have seen is his older brother who washed out in Houston after taking a pounding his first few years in the league). Other quarterbacks that might have been considered with the top pick are Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles and the infamous Texas football legend…Johnny Manziel. Well, good thing that didn’t happen.
The question is, could any of the first three quarterbacks found success in Houston? I think so. Bridgewater was an Andy Dalton type guy when I looked at him—high floor, low ceiling kind of guy. He might be the perfect fit in Minnesota, but maybe not the right guy for the Texans, particularly after his pro day. Bortles was a guy who screamed boom or bust, and I think it’s a little too early to decide which. But with a guy like DeAndre Hopkins to throw to, he could have been really good quickly. Looking back, I would have picked Carr. But after the fact anyone can make a good choice. Right now instead of looking like Clay Matthews or J.J. Watt, two first round pass rushers, some of the guys who come to mind when thinking about Clowney are Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey; two really athletic defensive ends that just couldn’t rush the passer despite their great athletic ability.
Back to the question at hand, can Clowney get back and become the guy he was drafted to be? I have my doubts at this point. Injuries can really kill young careers, a la Brian Bosworth and Ki-Jana Carter. Granted, sports medicine has come a long way since the 90’s, so I have no doubt that he can get back physically. Whether he mentally is going to be there is the question. Will he still have the heart and desire to play his best after suffering multiple injuries? That is going to be what determines if Clowney becomes a household name for a good reason or a bad one.