Pairing Jadeveon Clowney with J.J. Watt as a pass-rushing duo with the Houston Texans has a nice ring to it, but Clowney might not be the ideal fit for the Texans' 3-4 scheme. Former Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage told Fox Sports AM 620 radio that the demands on Clowney as a pass-rushing linebacker in a 3-4 defense aren't much of a match for his skill set.
"The Texans are going to be playing a 3-4 defense, so that means he's going to be a 3-4 defensive end or an outside backer," Savage said. "I don't particularly think he forecasts well as an outside backer up on his feet rushing the edge, because I do think there is some lateral tightness in his athletic ability. Although he blew the field away in the 40 and the vertical, when he ran the 3-cone it was a 7.27. ... So there is some concern there."
Clowney's 3-cone time ranked 12th among defensive linemen. Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy blew the field away with a 6.83 time, and Clowney would have needed a 7.15 to crack the top five.
"The 4-3 defensive end, I think, is the right fit for him, where he can use that body length and his speed off the edge," Savage told College Football 24/7. "Versus a 3-4 team, where there are constraints in that system. It's a little more of a disciplined style of play. It's a little different animal altogether."
Savage echoed scouting concerns about Clowney's work ethic as well, calling Clowney a risk as a No. 1 overall draft pick, in light of South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier's comments that called Clowney's work habits into question. Still, Savage said he didn't see Clowney slipping in the draft any further than the No. 6 pick, which belongs to the Atlanta Falcons. Just how much was asked of Clowney at South Carolina is among the questions scouts will ask as NFL clubs build a profile on his character traits. Savage is unconvinced Clowney was pushed for greatness as a Gamecock.
"I do think the tail wagged the dog a bit," he said. "When you recruit a five-star No. 1 overall player out of high school, sometimes these are the misgivings you have in terms of fitting them into your program, where they have to do everything everybody else does. It's obvious Clowney didn't. It was more of a maintenance-type relationship."
Clowney's decision to pass on several combine drills because of a hip flexor strain has set him up for a much more rigorous workout on his pro day.
"They are absolutely going to work this guy out until his tongue drags, because people in the league want to find out what this guy is all about," Savage added.