Pro Prospects: How Clowney's foot woes might affect draft status

Posted by JOSH KENDALL on September 27, 2013 

South Carolina's defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7)

KIM KIM FOSTER-TOBIN — kkfoster@thestate.com

Josh Norris, NFL Draft writer for Rotoworld.com, joined us again this week to discuss, what else, Jadeveon Clowney’s foot, and the UCF Knights. South Carolina fans will like what he has to say about Clowney and how the timing of possible foot surgery could affect his draft prospect status.

The State: Let’s start with a Gamecocks question. We haven’t talked to you since Jadeveon Clowney said he expects to have foot surgery after the season to correct bone spurs. If you’re Jadeveon Clowney and thinking of your pro career, does that surgery need to happen sooner rather than later?

Josh Norris: It’s a good question. (Having the surgery last offseason) obviously would have been a better outcome, but he’s not going to be eligible for any of the all-star games because he’s a junior so as long as his surgery allows him to participate fully in the combine, even though he might not participate fully in the combine, then I don’t think it really affects him. It seems unfair, but I wish he could just fast forward through this season in terms of his draft evaluation. I do think people are starting to realize that he makes a tremendous impact on the field, and it’s not just the numbers, but from a surgery standpoint, you obviously never want to hear that word. I think it’ll be fine because I doubt he fully participates in the combine even if he is fully healthy just because that is the thing to do for top prospects. Really, the combine if 50 percent medical. That’s why all the team’s doctors go, just to get a baseline common ground on medical (evaluations).

The State: So as long as he is in good enough health at the combine for a doctor to look him over and say, ‘Yeah, the foot is going to be fine,’ he’d be OK from a prospect standpoint?

Josh Norris: Absolutely, and if he shows he can play through medical issues this season, that won’t hurt him at all. This goes back to this offseason where some media people suggested he might be better off sitting out this season for himself, but obviously you want to help the team and the school that has helped you get to this spot. Obviously South Carolina fans have been great to him. The team has been great to him. He’s made a name for himself on the national stage there, so I doubt this hurts him at all.

The State: Moving on to UCF, tell me about Knights quarterback Blake Bortles.

Josh Norris: If you haven’t watched Blake Bortles, you are in for a treat because this guy is a large pocket passer with some mobility. He isn’t just a stiff pocket passer. He can move around, buy himself a little bit of time. Accuracy and touch are his two greatest strengths. He doesn’t put a whole lot of velocity on his passes, the short levels all the way to vertical shots. He is someone who definitely is going to be drafted. He’s a redshirt junior. He’s already come out and said he’s not thinking about the NFL at this point so I would expect him to be around next year. Some people in the draft community are very high on him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if when it’s all said and done we see him being a third round pick. Fourth or fifth round at worst. He’s a very intriguing quarterback.

The State: Anybody else on the Knights’ roster that jumps out at you?

Josh Norris: There are two, left tackle Torrian Wilson, he’s been injured the last couple weeks until this contest. He is very intriguing. He has a lot of lower body athleticism. When you talk about offensive linemen, you always want to look at how they bend. Not their waist because waist benders can easily be pushed and pulled. You can run around them. They can be manipulated by good defensive ends. If you’re a knee bender and you sink down and have athletic feet, then you can anchor and absorb that momentum and redirect it. Wilson is a very athletic left tackle. I am excited to see how he handles pass rushers. One more is Storm Johnson, their running back. He’s a Miami transfer if I am not mistaken. He gets the tough yards, and he’s the complement to Blake Bortles’ passing game. They have a bunch of no-name receivers that Bortles hits a lot, and they have yards-after-catch ability.

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