Jadeveon Clowney hints at NFL future

USA TODAY Sports

Much of the talk about South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney on Tuesday was his how opposing quarterbacks are scared of him.

But a simple two-word answer is what should get the attention of the NFL.

The junior defensive end was asked if he would be ready for the NFL after this season. His answer was straightforward.

"Yes, sir," Clowney told a throng of media members.

It should come as no surprise that Clowney all but confirmed he will enter the 2014 NFL Draft. Unless he has a catastrophic injury, Clowney should go wire to wire rated as the best prospect in college football. The only reason he's not considered a lock for No. 1 overall is because a team drafting that high may not need a quarterback.

That was the case in 2002 when the Carolina Panthers drafted Julius Peppers second overall and David Carr went No. 1. That year, Peppers was clearly the top player in the draft. The same will be the case for Clowney, so it's fitting he's often compared to Peppers.

Clowney is an inch and about 15 pounds smaller than Peppers, but he's just as skilled of an athlete. At the SEC media day on Tuesday, Clowney even confirmed running a ridiculous 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds. Peppers ran a 4.74 at the NFL Combine.

Clowney also has a chance to finish his college career with better stats than Peppers. In three seasons at North Carolina, Peppers had 30.5 sacks and 53 tackles for loss. Clowney is already up to 21 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss.

The goal for Clowney this season is to nearly equal his career sack total. He said on Tuesday he wants to get 20 sacks. If he is to come close to that number, Clowney will have to do it against consistent double teams. Clowney said he wants to get better getting off multiple blockers. He also said he wants to improve his hand usage. For the talented Clowney, that might be his lone weak spot.

Because he's already so polished and NFL ready, there was some scuttlebutt online earlier this year that he may sit out a season to avoid injury. Clowney said he never considered. "I love the game too much," he said.

"I'm just ready to get up there and play with those guys and see how it changes over from college to the NFL."

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