South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney won't see a measurable dip in his NFL Draft stock based on his decision to sit out last weekend's game against Kentucky, but may eventually have a few more uncomfortable questions to answer in interviews with NFL clubs. That was the general consensus between former NFL scouts and NFL Media analysts Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah, who tackled the subject Wednesday on the College Football 24/7 Podcast.
Earlier in the day, MMQB.com's Peter King suggested what some of those uncomfortable questions might be. The junior is expected to turn pro early after the season, although the deadline to declare early draft eligibility isn't until mid-January. For Brooks, Clowney's raw talent is too immense for him to slip out of the top five of a draft, be it in 2014 or 2015.
"He won't slip out of the top five. ... It's moot," Brooks said. "It's a lot of conversation about nothing, but I do believe there are some issues he'll have to address when it comes time to talk at the (NFL Scouting) combine in private workouts and interview sessions."
Brooks and Jeremiah both indicated that Clowney's decision not to play against Kentucky fits easily into the narrative questioning what Brooks described as Clowney's "football character," which was scrutinized in a season-opening win over North Carolina. Clowney was in poor condition and appeared to loaf on various plays during the game.
"How much will he change from a character/work ethic standpoint when he gets to the next level, and he gets a big check, and he has the money and all the fame and all the lifestyle and the prestige," Brooks said, "will he continue to be the guy we expect him to be on the field when he has all the trappings of the life. I'm concerned in that capacity. I think that won't be resolved until we get him at the combine and start to have these serious one-one-one interviews."
Like Brooks, however, Jeremiah indicated that Clowney's ultimate draft value remains largely unshaken.
"When I talk to different guys around the league about him pulling himself out of the game. ... They were more forgiving than the general public," Jeremiah said. "When you really push people and get them to make a decision on that, I don't see it affecting him all that much."
Clowney, it would appear, can expect to be sitting in an interview chair even longer than what would be normal for a potential first-round pick as NFL clubs, be it this winter or next, begin to evaluate him as a person rather than as a player.
Longer, more than likely, than he'll be available on the board on his eventual draft day.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread