Jadeveon Clowney arrived at South Carolina as the No. 1 recruit in the country. Over the course of his first two seasons in Columbia, he lived up to that billing, notching 21 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss. His freakish size, length and athleticism had many, myself included, labeling him as the top defensive prospect of the last decade. Unfortunately, his numbers have dramatically fallen off during his junior campaign. Through the first nine games, he's recorded just two sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. How big of a concern is this statistical drop off? I reached out to five NFL executives and asked them if Clowney's lack of production in 2013 is a minor concern or a major issue. Here are their answers:
Executive No. 1
"Not a major concern. He's proven his ability to get to the quarterback. He's maybe not as clean of a prospect as he was before the season, but I still think he's going to be a stud in the NFL."
Executive No. 2
"It would be a big concern if he didn't have consistent stretches of production during his career. He's been very productive in the previous two seasons. I'm not that worried about him."
Executive No. 3
"Minor concern. He needs better health, conditioning and a fresh challenge. He should have all three next year. He'll be as good as he wants to be."
Executive No. 4
"Minor concern. His tape is good. Ignore the dip in production. He impacts the game in a drastic way. My only concern is his makeup. We'll get more answers in that area after we meet with him and do all of our background work."
Executive No. 5
"Only a minor concern, if any ... plus, he might double his sack total against Florida this week. He killed them last year."
Verdict: All five executives believe Clowney's poor 2013 production is a minor concern and not a major issue.
Conclusion: Clowney isn't having the type of season I anticipated, but his lack of production hasn't been a major issue with these five personnel executives. We've all seen what he's capable of doing when he's healthy and fully engaged. Also, there are still a few more games left for Clowney to showcase his skills and improve his numbers. Even if he fails to notch another sack this fall, he's shown enough during his college career to stay near the top of every draft board in the NFL.