As we hit the home stretch on the way to the 2014 NFL Draft, everybody is still in the dark as to what the Houston Texans will do with the first-overall pick. That, naturally, means nobody has a firm idea as to how the first few picks will play out.
What we do know, though, is that the top talent in this year's draft, Jadeveon Clowney, is pretty good at this football thing. NFL Media reporter Albert Breer recently explored exactly how good the South Carolina defensive end could be by asking around the league to get an idea if he'll wind up as a phenom or a question mark at the next level.
We're not exactly spoiling things when summarizing that opinions remain split as to whether Clowney will be a Hall of Famer or an NFL bust. As for those thinking the former, at least one executive couldn't hold back in gushing over Clowney's potential.
"Right now, today, he's a damn-good NFL player, no matter what," a veteran NFC personnel executive told Breer. "The kid could've started in the NFL his freshman year, the way he played. It's not that he doesn't have good tape. And if you hit on him, he's Reggie White. His God-given talent is better than 99 percent of the NFL. ... He's gonna be 275 to 285 pounds, and he moves like he's 250. If you hit on him, he changes the game."
That executive is clearly enamored with the defensive end, and it's not hard to see why. Clowney is 6-foot-6, 266 pounds and ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. He was the nation's top recruit coming out of high school and, after three seasons with the Gamecocks, is widely considered the top prospect for NFL teams this years.
That's not to say Clowney is perfect, as Breer's piece also showed. Clowney is not viewed in the same light as Andrew Luck was coming out of college in terms of being a can't-miss prospect. Questions have arisen about his work ethic and ability to fit in certain types of defenses. A decline in production from his huge sophomore season to last year is one of the chief concerns some NFL scouts have about him.
"What are you buying?" another NFC personnel exec told Breer. "I'm not sure. He can be a big-time player, but is he gonna be? The wiring, the motor, the questions about shutting it down -- it's really scary. It's boom or bust. I don't know how important football is to him."
We'll take this time to remind everybody that this happens every year with top prospects. Even Luck was picked apart as the draft drew closer and the stock drop for most experts' top quarterback this year -- Teddy Bridgewater -- is well documented. Clowney is no exception to the rule, and there will always be some scout who doesn't like what he sees when turning on the film to watch a player.
What is quite clear, however, is that Clowney is one of the most physically talented players in the draft and he can point to a number of players on tape where he looks like the most dominant defensive end to play college football in some time. It's not going out on a limb to say there's no coach in the NFL who would turn down the chance to coach Clowney if given the opportunity. He's a special player.
How special remains to be seen, but hearing an executive compare a player to Reggie White just doesn't happen every draft. Time will tell how good Clowney can become, but it's abundantly clear he has all the talent in the world to develop into a game changer in the NFL.
Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.