Jadeveon Clowney is back at the top of Mel Kipers most recent mock draft, and the ESPN draft analyst doesnt think hell be moving from that perch.
I dont think anyone is going No. 1 but Clowney, Kiper said Tuesday. Hes a once-in-20-years guy. I dont know how you take anyone over Clowney.
Clowney, a two-time All-America defensive end at South Carolina, will be one of 30 players in New York on May 8 for the first round of the NFL Draft. If he is taken No. 1 overall, he would join running back George Rogers as the only Gamecocks to attain that status.
Kiper has no concerns about Clowneys work ethic, he said.
I didnt see lack of hustle. I didnt see lack of effort, he said. I saw a guy who played hard 90 percent of the time. Stats dont make a difference. Its, Are you impactful? And he was impactful in every game I saw.
The Houston Texans, a team owned by South Carolina graduate Bob McNair, have the No. 1 pick, but Kiper suggested Tuesday the Texans could trade that pick. Teams looking to trade up to get Clowney will have to pay a high price, Kiper said.
It costs a lot because you are going up to get the best defensive end in 20 years, he said.
Kiper also is a fan of former South Carolina wide receiver Bruce Ellington, who Kiper said could be selected early in the second round.
I like him athletically, Kiper said. Hes a threat, and hes a fear factor player. He has climbed.
Kiper is not as high as some on former Gamecocks Kelcy Quarles and Victor Hampton. He called both probably Day 3 picks, which would mean between the fourth and seventh rounds. He has Quarles, an All-American in 2013, rated as a fifth-round pick, he said.
Former South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw likely will be picked between the fifth and seventh rounds, Kiper said.
He probably looks more like a career backup, Kiper said.