There might not be a better athlete in the 2014 draft class than Jadeveon Clowney. That doesn't mean he's the best fit as the No. 1 overall pick.
That's the opinion of NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell, who has concluded that Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack is the top prospect in this year's class.
"I think Mack is a better prospect as we speak today," Cosell said on Friday's edition of the "Around The League Podcast." "And he'd be a great fit in a pure 3-4 because I think his best position in a base defense is an outside linebacker in a two-point stance.
"When I watch Khalil Mack I see a really strong, explosive, multi-dimensional player who's a very good pass rusher who showed the ability to rush the quarterback in multiple ways, from speed to power and bending the edge, which are two important qualities for a pass rusher."
Cosell believes Clowney is a special, but raw, talent.
"If you're going to draft Clowney with the first pick in the draft, then you're basically saying he's going to be a dominant pass rusher because you don't draft defensive ends to stop the run with the first pick in the draft," he said. "So essentially you're saying he's going to be a great pass rusher.
"At this point in time he's much more of an athlete than a pass rusher and a football player. And you're counting on that great athleticism to translate through coaching into becoming a great, great football player and pass rusher."
Some other takeaways from our chat with Cosell, a man who knows his stuff:
» Cosell is a big fan of North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, whom he sees as a high first-round pick. He pointed to a 71-yard touchdown Ebron had last year against Miami as an example of the playmaker's special abilities.
"That's what everybody wants in today's NFL," he said. "They want a tight end that's essentially a wide receiver in the way he can be deployed, because not only does it create matchups for him but it also dictates matchups for all your other receivers.
"So he fits that profile and the added element is that he can score from pretty much anywhere on the field, which you can't really say about most tight ends with very few exceptions."
» University of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater represents something of a conundrum for NFL teams. Cosell explained why:
"(You can say) he is really advanced in many of the subtle nuances of playing quarterback. And then there's the other part where you can easily say, 'What is Bridgewater?' Bridgewater is shorter than ideal. Smaller than desirable, a highly efficient quarterback with no outstanding physical traits. And that description would be very true as well. So where do you draft that guy?"
» Cosell believes the size and speed possessed by Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins makes him a potential superstar at the next level. Cosell puts Watkins ahead of Texas A&M's Mike Evans as a prospect.
"I made the point that Watkins is the best wide receiver since the A.J. Green, Julio Jones class of 2011," he said. "I've talked to people in the league who say he's the best receiver to come out since Calvin Johnson."