Was USA Todays National Defensive Player of the Year, a Parade Magazine All-America selection and the state of South Carolina's "Mr. Football" in 2010, finishing his storied senior season with 162 tackles, 29 tackles for loss and 29.5 sacks with 11 forced fumbles and five defensive touchdowns. Also played part-time at running back. Arrived on campus in 2011, appearing in 13 games (one start) as a true freshman and tallying 36 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and eight sacks with one pass batted and five forced fumbles. Was selected as the SEC's Freshman of the Year. Finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2012 and was the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year after registering 54 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks with two passes batted and three forced fumbles in 12 starts at defensive end. Was just the second Gamecocks sophomore to earn unanimous All-America honors, joining George Rogers (1980). Set school single-season records in tackles for loss and sacks and a school single-game mark with a 4.5-sack performance against Clemson. Missed one game, sitting against Wofford to rest an ailing foot. In 11 games in 2013, he had 40 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and three sacks with four passes batted and one forced fumble. Missed two games with injuries (bone spurs in foot, muscle strain near rib area). Had a pair of well-publicized speeding citations in December 2013 (going 110 mph in a 70 mph zone and 84 mph in a 55 mph zone). Concluded his three-year college career with 47 tackles for loss, 24 sacks and nine forced fumbles in 36 games.
Looks every bit the part with long arms (big wingspan) and large hands. Athletic marvel with raw explosive power and rare speed for his size. Is physically tough and will battle through injuries. Can collapse the corner with ease and rag-dolls blockers. Highly disruptive -- creates a lot of pressure and flushes production to his teammates. Can split the double team and closes in a hiccup. Plays with leverage and power in his hands -- converts speed into power and bulls blockers into the backfield. Disrupts a quarterback's vision with long arms and can bat down balls. Seldom leaves the field. Flashes playmaking ability and can produce athletic feats in a category with few others before him. Posted a 37 1/2-inch vertical jump and 10-foot-4 broad jump at the combine. Versatile -- lines up everywhere along the line and can win with strength, power, quickness and speed. Has the personality of a pleaser and does not like to disappoint coaches or teammates. Exceptional pro day positional workout, showing rare speed, athletic ability, bend and explosion for a man his size.
Is more thinly built in the lower body. Inconsistent technician. Has a tendency to play tall. Down-to-down effort lacks consistency. Lacks discipline on and off the field and has had to be managed closely since he arrived on campus. Needs to learn what it means to be a pro. Plays in spurts and is too much of a flash player -- does not consistently dominate like he could. Is still immature and finding his way -- too much of a follower.
Round 1 (top 10)
A physical specimen with a rare size-speed combination, Clowney was not as impactful as a junior while playing through injuries and being forced to deal with opposing offenses that fully accounted for him with extra chip protection. Was a 20-year-old junior affected by turnover on the defensive coaching staff. Could benefit tremendously from a stable positional coach and strong, veteran mentor on the defensive line who will hold him accountable, show him the way and serve as a father figure. Is one of the most unique talents in the draft and could easily be a double-digit sack producer in the pros from either end. Is every bit worthy of the first overall pick and will immediately upgrade a defensive line and improve the production of those around him.