What's between Jadeveon Clowney's ears and in his heart, rather than what physical tools he can bring to an NFL defensive line, continues to develop as the prevailing narrative of the South Carolina star's draft evaluation.
The star junior, who is expected to announce early eligibility for the draft, has seen elements of his game such as hustle and toughness questioned in a season in which his production slipped from 13.5 sacks (2012) to only three (2013). NFL Media reporter Albert Breer spoke to two NFL scouting directors who addressed some of those very concerns.
"He's flashed that big-time ability, but that's easy, because he has that," said one. "Very average production, average overall season, but he's still talented enough so that offenses focus on him."
Said the other: "There are two ways of thinking about it. You could say, 'Now, he's just going to be playing the game, he doesn't need to worry about not getting hurt and making it anymore, and he'll feel more comfortable now that it's football only and he won't be concerned about the draft and he can just play ball like he did his first two years.' Or you could say, 'Now that he's getting paid, is he gonna coast?' That's the question you have to answer."
His judgement behind the wheel of a car isn't helping his profile much, either. Clowney was stopped and ticketed for grossly exceeding the speed limit for the second time in a month on Thursday, this time clocked at 84 mph in a 55 mph zone. The points accumulation on his driving record could threaten his license if he doesn't take legal steps necessary to reduce them, but Clowney, for one, doesn't seem to be too concerned:
NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt believes a tough position coach at the NFL level might be the best thing that could happen to Clowney. On draft day, however, that's likely the last thing that will be on the Gamecocks star's mind as the first names begin to come off the board on day one.
Unless the consensus among NFL clubs drafting early is that Clowney is a real mess from a mental standpoint, it won't be a long wait.