Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann can see a bright future for former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, but the former Pittsburgh Steelers star emphasized the importance of system fit, and threw in a cautionary character caveat on the 2014 NFL Draft's most dynamic pass rusher, as well.
"I have not seen him play a lot, seen a lot about his stats and speed and strength and size," said Swann, according to gogamecocks.com. "He's got all the assets and all the tools. If he's got the heart and head to play this game, in the right system, I think he'll be great."
Clowney helped to quiet some of the questions about his work ethic by proving to be in the best condition of any of the defensive linemen at South Carolina's pro day last week. Potentially the No. 1 overall pick by the Houston Texans, he has been compared to some of the NFL's best pass rushers in recent years, including Julius Peppers and Mario Williams. As for system fit, Texans coach Bill O'Brien made it clear that if Clowney were to be the Texans' pick, he'd play a versatile role in defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's 3-4 scheme.
As a defensive end in a more standard 4-3 defense, Clowney find his role somewhat more simplified.
Either way, Swann said, the right system fit for any rookie isn't to be overlooked as a determining factor in success. And as gifted as Clowney is with his 4.53 speed and 6-6, 266-pound frame, Clowney is no different from anyone else in that regard.
"There are guys who have played college football who were not necessarily at their best in college football, but they find a better system and structure and more talent around them in pro football that gives them a better platform," Swann said. "I think he has all the tools. A coach is going to look at that and say, 'I want him.'"
Clowney spent extensive time with Texans representatives, including O'Brien, surrounding his pro-day performance, including a dinner the night before. If Clowney has convinced O'Brien of the intangibles question, O'Brien might have just the system for him.