Clowney’s technique is limited.
While Clowney’s performance was a breakout of sorts it also demonstrated how much work he has yet to do. He is a physical freak who relies on superior physicality to make plays. His technique is very limited which, in turn, places limitations on his performance.
Clowney has violent hands that he uses to blunt an opponent’s thrust. Against the pass, after the initial blow he bull rushes, often backing much bigger linemen into the quarterback’s lap. If Clowney senses the opposing lineman has lost balance he sheds him and rushes unimpeded.
Against the run, whether at the point of attack or setting the edge, Clowney again has limited technique. He lives by his powerful hands and exceptional strength. Once he obtains leverage he is nearly impossible to move.
The problem is that despite his immense talent, at this stage of his development Clowney is pretty much a one trick pony. If the bull rush works he wins. If it doesn’t he is stalemated and then sometimes takes the rest of the play off. He does well with the tools he has, but how much better and more consistent could he be with a fulltime motor and the three basic moves of most defensive linemen?
By adding “rip” and “swim” moves to his bull rush Clowney would be a nightmare for opposing linemen. How would anyone block him if he then achieved the sophistication and diversification of moves already mastered by J. J. Watt?