Jadeveon Clowney is the most talented defensive player in this year’s NFL draft, but that doesn’t make him the best.
At least some NFL personnel people have more confidence in Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack becoming a high-level NFL player than they do in Clowney, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock was an early occupant of the Mack bandwagon, saying before the Scouting Combine that he would take Mack over Clowney. Mayock even said he would take Mack with the first overall pick in the draft.
Clowney is freakishly talented and probably would have been the first overall pick in last year’s draft, if not for the NFL’s rule requiring players to be three years out of high school before entering the draft. But during the 2013 season at South Carolina, a consensus began to emerge that Clowney’s work ethic doesn’t match his talent.
Mack, meanwhile, had a phenomenal 2013 season at the University at Buffalo, and some evaluators think Mack’s versatility against the run and the pass makes him a better fit in certain schemes than Clowney, who is primarily an edge pass rusher. Mack turned in a very good performance at the Scouting Combine, and there are no questions about Mack’s work ethic.
The smart money is still on Clowney being the first defensive player off the board. But there are personnel people in the NFL who would rather have Mack.