The NFL Combine is a lot like Instagram.
Bench press reps, 40 times and vertical jumps are a lot like the thirst traps that populate the ‘Gram, caused by “models” with contact e-mails in their bio. Some unlucky franchise falls for the hype every year without fail. And before executives or fans realize what’s hit them, they’re stuck with Darrius Heyward-Bey’s 4.30 40 time and cinderblocks for hands when players like Michael Crabtree, Brian Orakpo and Clay Matthews, among others, were all selected within the next 20 picks.
The premise and allure of the Combine is understood, and in some cases needed, as teams get to speak with players first-hand. But judging a player’s worth and character from one random weekend in the dead of winter? The whole process has never sat right.
BUT GREAT GOTHAM, BATMAN, DID YOU SEE JADEVEON CLOWNEY RUN THE 40?
Nearly a year ago – and two months after becoming a household name following his New Year’s Day public execution of Michigan’s Vincent Smith – Clowney made news with his video game-like stunt by running a 4.5 40 in South Carolina’s winter workouts.
In the potential top pick’s first (unofficial) attempt, he posted a gaudy time of 4.47 (and 4.48 in his second unofficial time). Let that marinate for a moment. A guy, whose job will be to purposely inflict the most amount of pain possible on perhaps your favorite team’s quarterback and running back, posted a 40 time faster than some wide receivers. At 6-feet-5 and 266 pounds.
By the time his official mark was posted, it “dropped” to 4.53. But the possibility for a Clowney/Watt pass rush in Houston just went from Nightmare On Elm Street to The Exorcist to a “we need to talk” text message-level-scary. Because, again, this isn’t basing the assumption solely off what Clowney did in February when a game isn’t hanging in the balance. It’s combining it with seeing this manchild play*, along with the havoc Watt already creates for offenses on a weekly basis–basically, the time might be more indicative of the skill than we’re supposed to believe.
And for the reservations about placing the South Carolina stud in the Texans’ defensive scheme, ponder this: there’s a 99.99 percent chance I will never work as a NFL scout or coordinator. But I’m failing to see how Clowney/Watt wouldn’t work. As ProFootballTalk’s Michael David Smith notes, if a defensive coordinator cannot figure out how to make that tandem work, they’re in the wrong line of business. Clowney/Watt should work by any means necessary. No excuses.
That said, marveling at the speed, insanity and potential of what the talent suggests he could become (think a scarier version of prime-Jevon Kearse if he uses the ever-growing list of knocks against him as motivation) is worth the conversation.
And worth investing in the NFL Redzone package if you haven’t already.
Bonus: Much, much respect to the people at Bleacher Report for these GIFs.
Here’s Clowney vs. Johnny Manziel.
And now Clowney vs. Oregon speedster De’Anthony Thomas. Two words: “Well, damn!” – Gucci Mane.
One more for the road. Yep, that’s Clowney, Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton.
You know, the truly great sports scribes of our time probably offer a Puliter Prize-worthy closing paragraph here. Something about the waves of potential crashing into the shores of reality, creating a beautiful scene of destruction that signals the birth of a truly legendary professional football career.
Well, Jack McCallum I am not (yet). No other description fits better than this one anyway. Happy Tuesday, folks.
Related: Starting Lineups: With Jadeveon Clowney’s 4.47 40-Yard Dash, His Run As The Modern-Day Van Wilder Is Over [TSFJ] | The Notebook: Jadeveon Clowney Is Ready To Be Molded Into A Monster [SBNation]
* – That and understand his sacks total dropped from 2012 to 2013 from 13 to 3 because of three things: he frequently faced double teams, teams purposely ran away from him, and he was attempting to protect his own investment (remember, there were faint rumors before the season he was considering sitting out).
H/T: Bleacher Report