Is Jadeveon Clowney worthy of the exorbitant hype? Surely he can't be as good as advertised, right? Those are questions I often get asked when the subject turns to the South Carolina defensive end. Instead of offering my personal opinion for the 4,000th time, I decided I should put that question to some veteran personnel men.
I polled five NFL executives, each with more than 10 years of scouting experience, and asked them if Clowney was the best defender in college football they had seen over the last decade. Here are their answers:
Executive No. 1: Second to none
"Yes. I have him over Von Miller, (Ndamukong) Suh, (Darrelle) Revis and Mario Williams. He has size, speed, rare athletic ability, flexibility and explosion. He's a dominating player vs. the run and pass."
Executive No. 2: Slight edge over Super Mario
"He's neck and neck with Mario Williams. There's no question that Clowney has created more buzz than any defensive player dating back to Charles Woodson. I guess I'll give Clowney the slight edge over Williams."
Executive No. 3: Only Suh comparable
"Yes. Only Suh is comparable. Clowney has everything including size and production. I knew he'd go No. 1 overall since his high school film was made public."
Executive No. 4: Clowney's a game-changer
"Hands down. Can you name a more dominant pass rusher in college during that time? I can't. He changes the game."
Executive No. 5: No one's perfect but ...
"I don't think he's a perfect prospect, but he has rare size and speed. He's a little bit tight, but overall he's probably still the best defensive player during that period of time."
Verdict: All five executives agreed that Clowney was the best defensive player they had seen in college football over the last decade.
Conclusion: With the massive amount of media now covering college football, it's easy for the hype to build on individual players. Sometimes the hype is unwarranted, but there are still instances where the performance matches the publicity. According to these five executives, this is one of those situations. Members of NFL personnel departments are just as high on Clowney as the rest of us.
Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.