Former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney may be the most talented player in the NFL Draft, but he wont be the No. 1 selection, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper predicted Wednesday.
On Kipers most recent Big Board, Clowney is ranked the nations top-rated departing collegian, but he will be drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the third selection, Kiper predicted.
There is no question that the Jags need a QB, Kiper wrote. It is questionable whether they will take one at this draft slot unless they believe that QB will make them better at that position in 2014. So consider this an early bet on a front office that will look to hit what is still a major need (the pass rush) by drafting the best available player in the draft. Clowney got questioned on his motor in his final college season, but that has more to do with stats than the tape. And any evaluator who saw a tentative player could also imagine what Clowney had on the line. Clowney is physically prepared to come in and make a major impact, and I think there's a good chance the Jags draft for upside and angle for a QB later. Don't forget: Free agency and trades can still shift the QB market in the draft. Think of Kansas City last year at this time. As well, I recall when the Texans took Mario Williams at a time when QB was a question, and their GM told us it wasn't just about needing a QB, it was about the QBs they had to beat. Peyton Manning was in the division. Indy still has a good QB the Jags have to face. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel will be taken No. 1 by the Houston Texans and Aggies teammate and offensive lineman Jake Matthews will be taken No. 2 by the St. Louis Rams, Kiper predicted.
Clowney, a two-time All-American for the Gamecocks who passed on his senior season to enter Mays draft, has long been considered one of top overall prospects, but his final draft position will be determined at least in part by the needs of NFL teams picking at the top of the draft.