3. He’s developed into a fantastic player, with room to grow
I’ll be the first to admit it that Jadeveon Clowney had me worrying for his career at the end of his sophomore season. Not only was he injured for a large amount of time, but he also lacked bend around the edge, and failed to show any development in his hand and footwork. He was as athletic as any player in the NFL, but that was about it.
Through the years, Clowney has started to see significant progress in his game. Not only did he start to stay healthy consistently, but he also started to flash elite bend around the edge, which is a hard-to-guard combination of freakish athleticism and technical polish.
If you’re into stats, those have improved as well with Clowney being first in the AFC in 2017 in tackles for loss with 21 total, and fourth in the AFC in the same stat in 2018, as he had 16 TFL despite missing one game.
If you’re into Pro Football Focus grading, Clowney has also impressed. In 2018, Clowney finished with a career-best in run-defense grade (91.2), pass-rushing grade (78.8) and finished the year as the PFF ninth best edge rusher with a grade of 88.0.
Most importantly, plays like the ones below just weren’t in Clowney’s repertoire when he first started in the NFL, but now they are. Sure, he was able to show off an impressive bull rush during his rookie year, but he couldn’t dance with a guard like and read leverage to his advantage to perform an impressive jab-swipe move like the one below.
You’ll also notice, like in the play above, Clowney can line up in multiple places on defense, which makes him that much more of a nightmare, but he can also rush the edge with the best of them.
The freaky thing about Clowney is that he’s only 26 years old, meaning he has a lot more room to grow. Even if he doesn’t, he’s shown that he can plan a pass rush, and use his freakish athleticism to his benefit while either pass rushing or defending the run.
And, oh yeah, Clowney can defend the run.