Down Goes Clowney

Here's something I never thought I'd say this season: The Gamecocks' freakish defensive end is no longer this draft's top prospect

By
Andy Staples
· More from Andy·

When I started this exercise a few months ago, I figured one part would be easy. At least for this season, I’d never have to change the No. 1 player. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney combined potential and production so well his first two seasons that it seemed impossible he could be unseated.

Whoops. Clowney is playing through a painful foot injury, so he gets somewhat of a pass. But he hasn’t been able to affect games the way he did as a sophomore. This may be a function of South Carolina’s youth elsewhere on defense. Teams running away from Clowney last year ran into much more experienced, effective defenders and realized that strategy wouldn’t work. This year, running away from Clowney has produced positive results. Still, a player who tops every draft board should be able to make his presence felt more than Clowney has. So he drops from the No. 1 spot this week. But he doesn’t drop too far. After all, he’ll still get scooped up by any NFL team that needs a freakishly athletic defensive end—and that’s pretty much all of them.

 

2014 NFL Draft Big Board 5.0
1
teddy-bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater

QB; Junior; Louisville; 6-3, 196

(Last Week: 2) Bridgewater probably won’t be tested in the slightest by Temple on Saturday.

2
jadeveon-clowney

Jadeveon Clowney

DE; Junior; University of South Carolina; 6-6, 274

(Last week: 1) Two tackles and only one hurry against a drop-back passer in a pro-style offense is less than what Clowney should be producing. Maybe it’s the foot injury, but his output is down.

3
anthony-carr

Anthony Barr

LB; Senior; UCLA; 6-4, 245

(Last Week: 3) Want a good look at Barr? He and the Bruins will face Utah on Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

4
taylor-lewan

Taylor Lewan

OT; Senior; Michigan; 6-8, 308

(Last Week: 4) Lewan said he wouldn’t apologize for being 4-0, but as a leader, he needs to help the Wolverines play better when Minnesota comes to Ann Arbor.

5
jake-matthews

Jake Matthews

OT; Senior; Texas A&M; 6-5, 305

(Last Week: 5) Matthews and his offensive teammates will have to keep lighting up the scoreboard, because the Aggies’ defense isn’t helping.

6
mike-evans

Mike Evans

WR; Redshirt Sophomore; Texas A&M; 6-5, 225

(Last Week: 6) Evans caught six passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns against Arkansas.

7
deanthony-thomas

De'Anthony Thomas

RB; Junior; Oregon; 5-9, 176

(Last Week: 7) Thomas injured his ankle Saturday against Cal. NFL coaches probably hope the Ducks don’t try to bring him back too early. Oregon certainly won’t need him against Colorado.

8
aaron-murray

Aaron Murray

QB; Senior; Georgia; 6-1, 208

(Last Week: 15) Murray has shed the can’t-win-the-big-games tag. If he keeps playing this way, he’ll be visiting New York in December.

9
Cyrus-Kouandjio

Cyrus Kouandjio

OT; Junior; Alabama; 6-6, 310

(Last Week: 9) Kouandjio has been solid all season, but his linemates have had issues. They seemed to correct those issues against Ole Miss in Saturday’s second half, and Alabama’s backs were thankful.

10
johnny-manziel

Johnny Manziel

QB; Redshirt Sophomore; Texas A&M; 6-1, 200

(Last Week: 10) The win at Arkansas was a ho-hum game for Manziel (320 yards total offense, two touchdown passes), but he still dominated the Razorbacks.

11
aj-mccarron

AJ McCarron

QB; Senior; Alabama; 6-4, 214

(Last Week: 12) With Alabama’s line and backs faltering in the first half, McCarron completed 20 of 23 passes and helped the Crimson Tide build a nine-point halftime lead.

12
tahj-boyd

Tajh Boyd

QB; Senior; Clemson; 6-1, 225

(Last Week: 13) Boyd threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 69 yards and a touchdown in an easy win against Wake Forest.

13
cj-mosley

C.J. Mosley

LB; Senior; Alabama; 6-2, 232

(Last Week: 21) Even though Ole Miss plays at a high tempo, Mosley always had Alabama in the correct alignment during Saturday’s win.

14
stephon-tuitt

Stephon Tuitt

DE; Junior; Notre Dame; 6-6, 303

(Last Week: 11) Tuitt had a tackle for loss and two hurries against Oklahoma, but it’s tough to bring down a mobile quarterback as big as most defensive linemen. (OK, Blake Bell isn’t THAT big.)

15
james-hurst

James Hurst

OT; Senior; North Carolina; 6-7, 305

(Last Week: 15) Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, Hurst doesn’t play defense.

16
zach-mettenberger

Zach Mettenberger

QB; Senior; LSU; 6-5, 235

(Last Week: Not Ranked) Mettenberger always had the measurables and the arm, but he struggled to guide the offense before coordinator Cam Cameron came along. Now, Mettenberger is leading a dynamic offense. At Georgia, he completed 23 of 37 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns.

17
sammy-watkins

Sammy Watkins

WR; Junior; Clemson; 6-1, 205

(Last Week: 16) Watkins caught six passes for 113 yards and a touchdown against Wake Forest.

18
louis-nix

Louis Nix III

DT; Junior; Notre Dame; 6-3, 340

(Last Week: 8) Nix got pushed around by Oklahoma’s offensive linemen. Meanwhile, Sooners center Gabe Ikard probably made himself some money.

19
ryan-shazier

Ryan Shazier

LB; Junior; Ohio State; 6-2, 222

(Last Week: 17) Shazier led the Buckeyes with nine tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss in the win against Wisconsin. His leadership will be even more important with safety Christian Bryant out for the year because of an ankle injury.

20
will-sutton

Will Sutton

DT; Senior; Arizona State; 6-1, 305

(Last Week: 20) Sutton returned to his disruptive ways against USC with two tackles for loss—including a sack.

21
braxton-miller

Braxton Miller

QB; Junior; Ohio State; 6-2, 215

(Last Week: 18) After missing two games with a knee injury, Miller threw for 198 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 83 yards.

22
jason-verrett

Jason Verrett

CB; Senior; TCU; 5-10, 176

(Last Week: 21) Verrett left the SMU game with a right shoulder injury, but Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson sounded as if keeping Verrett out was a precautionary measure. He should be ready to play at Oklahoma on Saturday.

23
marcus-mariota

Marcus Mariota

QB; Redshirt Sophomore; Oregon; 6-4, 211

(Last Week: 23) On a rainy night not fit for throwing, Mariota completed 11 of 25 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 33 yards and a touchdown.

24
david-yankey

David Yankey

OG; Senior; Stanford; 6-5, 311

(Last Week: 23) Yankey missed the Washington State game while dealing with an undisclosed family issue. Stanford has not announced whether he’ll be back for Saturday’s game against Washington.

25
kyle-van-noy

Kyle Van Noy

LB; Senior; BYU; 6-3, 245

(Last Week: 24) Van Noy had seven tackles against Middle Tennessee on Friday.

26
loucheiz-purifoy

Loucheiz Purifoy

CB; Junior; Florida; 6-1, 189

(Last Week: 25) Purifoy was slowed by a thigh bruise suffered against Tennessee, but he played against Kentucky. Another corner made the headlines in that game, but Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III is only a freshman and won’t be eligible for the Big Board for two years.

27
haha-clinton-dix

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

S; Junior; Alabama; 6-1, 208

(Last Week: 31) Clinton-Dix’s flip of Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell early in Saturday’s first quarter forced a turnover on downs in Alabama territory and set the tone for the Alabama defense for the entire game.

28
timmy-jernigan

Timmy Jernigan

DT; Junior; Florida State; 6-2, 298

(Last Week: 28) Though Florida State’s defense struggled early against Boston College, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher—after watching the film—said Jernigan and his fellow linemen turned in their best performances of the season. The issues, Fisher said, were at linebacker.

29
cyril-richardson

Cyril Richardson

OG; Baylor; 6-5, 335

(Last Week: 31) After watching West Virginia’s defense shut down Oklahoma State’s offense, it should be fun to watch Richardson get his first real challenge of the season.

30
adrian-hubbard

Adrian Hubbard

LB; Redshirt Junior; Alabama; 6-6, 252

(Last Week: 32) The pass rush generated by Hubbard and company in the second half against Ole Miss allowed Alabama to play split safeties and eliminate big passing plays.

31
derek-carr

Derek Carr

QB; Senior; Fresno State; 6-3, 218

(Last Week: 29) Carr completed 32 of 47 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns at Hawaii, but he also threw two interceptions.

32
jared-abbrederis

Jared Abbrederis

WR; Redshirt Senior; Wisconsin; 6-2, 190

(Last Week: Not Ranked) Even though Ohio State knew he was the only real threat in the passing game, Abbrederis still caught 10 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown. That the former walk-on* caught several of those passes with Bradley Roby covering him is even more impressive.

*Another guy who came to Wisconsin as a walk-on? J.J. Watt.

33
bradley-roby

Bradley Roby

CB; Redshirt Junior; Ohio State; 5-11, 192

(Last Week: 26) See above. Want to be a first-round corner? Stop the other team’s best receiver.

34
marqise-lee

Marqise Lee

WR; Junior; USC; 6-0, 195

(Last Week: 27) Maybe things will get better for Lee now that Lane Kiffin isn’t calling the plays anymore.

35
zack-martin

Zack Martin

OT; Senior; Notre Dame; 6-4, 304

(Last Week: 33) If quarterback Tommy Rees isn’t going to put any air under the ball, Martin and his linemates will have to work to get pass rushers’ hands down to stop all the batted balls at the line of scrimmage.

36
antonio-richardson

Antonio Richardson

OT; Junior; Tennessee; 6-6, 327

(Last Week: 39) Richardson played well against South Alabama. The Volunteers’ defense didn’t, and fans weren’t thrilled that their team almost lost a bodybag game at home. So Richardson sent a tweet (since deleted) poking fun at the fan reaction. He’ll need to stop worrying about the fans and start worrying about Georgia’s pass rush.

37
ifo-ekpre-olomu

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

CB; Junior; Oregon; 5-10, 190

(Last Week: 34) A driving rain limited Cal to only 45 pass attempts, but one still wound up in the hands of Ekpre-Olomu.

38
khalil-mack

Khalil Mack

LB; Senior; Buffalo; 6-3, 245

(Last Week: 35) Mack had eight tackles and a sack in the win that got Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni fired.

39
anthony-johnson

Anthony Johnson

DT; Junior; LSU; 6-3, 294

(Last Week: 36) We can’t call it a FAT GUY INT if the touchdown-scorer in question is a genetic anomaly who manages to pack 294 pounds into a frame with shockingly little body fat.

40
jordan-matthews

Jordan Matthews

WR; Senior; Vanderbilt; 6-3, 205

(Last Week: 37) Matthews caught eight passes for 115 yards and a touchdown against UAB.

41
trent-murphy

Trent Murphy

LB; Redshirt Senior; Stanford; 6-6, 261

(Last Week: 38) We continue with our theme of very large people intercepting passes. Murphy took this one to the house.

42
ka'deem-carey

Ka'Deem Carey

RB; Junior; Arizona; 5-10, 207

(Last Week: 46) On a sloppy night at Washington, Carey ran for 132 yards and a touchdown.

43
odell-beckham

Odell Beckham Jr.

WR; Junior; LSU; 6-0, 193

(Last Week: 42) Beckham caught six passes for 118 yards against Georgia.

44
jarvis-landry

Jarvis Landry

WR; Junior; LSU; 6-1, 195

(Last Week: Not Ranked) It’s only fitting that Landry and Beckham be listed next to one another. Landry caught 10 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown against Georgia.

45
darqueze-dennard

Darqueze Dennard

CB; Senior; Michigan State; 5-11, 188

(Last Week: 43) Dennard could have a quiet day against a grind-it-out Iowa team.

46
xavier-sua-filo

Xavier Su’a-Filo

OG; Junior; UCLA; 6-3, 304

(Last Week: 44) Thursday’s visit to Utah is a homecoming for Su’a-Filo, who grew up in the Salt Lake City area. In fact, his Timpview High team won a state title in 2008 at Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium.

47
travis-swanson

Travis Swanson

C; Senior; Arkansas; 6-5, 315

(Last Week: 45) Swanson dominated Texas A&M’s defensive line, but pretty much everyone is dominating Texas A&M’s defensive line. Swanson will face a much tougher challenge at Florida.

48
max-bullough

Max Bullough

LB; Senior; Michigan State; 6-3, 242

(Last Week: Not Ranked) While Dennard’s day may be quiet, Bullough will be in the middle of the action. He hasn’t forgotten the way Iowa rammed the ball down the Spartans’ throats last year on a long touchdown drive that forced overtime.

49
scott-crichton

Scott Crichton

DE; Redshirt Junior; Oregon State; 6-3, 265

(Last Week: 50) Crichton had two tackles for loss in the Beavers’ win against Colorado.

50
lache-seastrunk

Lache Seastrunk

RB; Redshirt Junior; Baylor; 5-10, 210

(Last Week: 49) West Virginia’s defense didn’t let Oklahoma State run wild. Can Seastrunk and the Bears crack the Mountaineers?

9 comments
Bill93
Bill93

Clowney is living off one play.

earlmp
earlmp

Andy, do you watch the games or just highlights?  Beckham #43 and trending down, you must jest...

Huskerstildeath
Huskerstildeath

AJ McCarron over Boyd, that's funny. No team in their right mind is going to draft McCarron in the first round, no team.

sushant
sushant

Alright Andy, why is Teddy #1 over A.Muray, J.Manziel, A.McCarron, T.Boyd and Z.Mettenberger?  It can't be the level of competition because the others have played harder competition.  It can't be the stats because they all have good stats.  

At this point, I have no idea which of those should be rated higher than the others.  How did you rank them?  What's your criteria?

peak555
peak555

Aaron Murray is NOT a first round QB.

RobertSmith
RobertSmith

Even many Buckeye fans in Columbus do not see Braxton Miller as an accurate passing QB.  The performance of Kenny Guiton in relief of Miller for two games helps demonstrate how much Miller's stats are a result of the team and system, not an extraordinary skill set.  Any NFL team that drafts Miller as a QB will be looking at a Slash player within two years. 

yadda71
yadda71

I love how all these writers keep snubbing Washington's Keith Price. Johnny Football will be lit up in the NFL. You cannot run all over and constantly throw off your back foot in the pros. 

D.
D.

Is this a rankings of the top NFL prospects or the best players in college? It seems to be more of the latter...

LomaxHunter
LomaxHunter

@D.Agreed, D.  Here is a quote from Staples' first ranking:

"This list probably won’t look anything like the top 50 in the 2014 draft because I’ll be using actual performance on the football field as the main criterion."

It is an interesting way to evaluate the top players in the college game, though.  It will also be interesting to see who in Staples' final top 50 actually gets drafted in the first two rounds.

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