The 2014 draft had one man above all others as the odds on top pick -- Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans had that number one pick and they went with the expected selection.
That selection caused a domino effect. The Rams were stacked with pass rushers, so they went with offensive tackle, Greg Robinson. The Jaguars were desperate for a quarterback so they went with Blake Bortles. Then the Bills traded up to number four to get the best receiver in the draft, Sammy Watkins.
Those moves left the Raiders at number five staring at a no-brainer pick in Khalil Mack.
There were actually some who questioned which player would have the better NFL career between Clowney and Mack -- Mike Mayock chief among them. Mack’s big question mark was coming from a small school at Buffalo. Clowney’s accomplishments came in the SEC, making him the ‘safer’ pick.
Since then, things have not gone so well for Clowney. He suffered a knee injury that cost him most of his rookie season, and a lisfranc foot injury that ended his 2015 season early. The result was 4.5 sacks last season, which is his career total.
Meanwhile, Mack has put up 19.0 sacks, including 15.0 sacks last season alone.
Now Clowney’s healthy, and some are predicting he will finally live up to the hype that had him a number one overall pick. This includes the SB Nation NFL season preview which has him winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
The preview itself gives no explanation for the decision, although SBN’s Stephen White had a piece this morning laying out why he sees Clowney as having a breakout season.
This would mean that reigning three-time DPOY JJ Watt would be handing the mantle over to his own teammate. As opposed to Khalil Mack who led the league in sacks up until the final game of the season resulting in his making history as the only player ever selected All Pro at two different positions (DE/OLB).
Mack’s 2015 season is a tough act to follow. He himself seems most likely to be able to follow it up or even improve upon it. But if Clowney’s still untapped raw talent has the prognosticators frothing at the mouth, that’s fine. I’ll stick with Mack’s all-around proven talent.