Jadeveon Clowney can make a big impact in 2015

The Texans really need a second pass-rusher to step up alongside J.J. Watt, and there's reasons to believe Jadeveon Clowney can fill the void.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Jadeveon Clowney can make a big impact in 2015

A week ago my colleague Jordan Plocher wrote about how the Houston Texans needed edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney to step up. He’s missed all of preseason this year and we’ve seen just 175 snaps from him, including the 2014 preseason and regular season, since he entered the NFL. That’s not the level of impact you need to see from the No. 1 overall pick, but it’s way too soon to be calling Clowney a bust. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise us at all if 2015 is a big season for Clowney, despite the fact that he has graded just average in limited action so far.

Let’s compare Clowney to another gifted pass-rusher who had a disappointing start to his career: Rams DE Robert Quinn. Drafted back in 2011, as a rookie, Quinn had a disappointing first season in terms of his total grade (-12.9) and didn’t make much of an impact as a pass-rusher, either (+1.3). Quinn followed that up with a similar second season (-14.9), before dominating in 2013 (+74.6). After two seasons where plenty would have been willing to label Quinn a bust, he had one of the best seasons of any defensive player in the NFL.

There’s no guarantee that Clowney can step it up like that, and there’s no denying that the Texans haven’t gotten their money’s worth out of the top pick in the 2014 NFL draft yet. But it’s still too early to be writing him off. The Texans are in serious need of a second pass-rusher behind J.J. Watt, and Clowney is perfectly positioned to take on that role as a force coming off the edge. We’ll get to see starting Week 1 whether he’s up for the challenge.

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • Sam Doohan

    I’ve got high hopes for Clowney myself. He’s had the time to learn the NFL game now and with Watt being so amazingly dominant and taking attention he’s well poised to have a good, if not great, season.

    It’s a really frustrating thing to see how shortsighted the NFL can be about players. We see way too many guys taken off the field, cut or traded because they didn’t instantly produce and that’s just bad for everyone. I know that every team wants to win today, but if more of them (coaches, GMs and owners) took a longer view they would build much better rosters with year to year consistency that gets the best out of the guys they have.

    My hope is the Browns and Raiders (and Bucs and Titans in years to come) figure it out and stick with the guys they have long enough to let them get to their peak. Maybe Manziel and Carr (and Mariota and Winston) might never be the best guys in the league, but they can prosper if they get supporting pieces and an offense that isn’t changing every season.

    Problem is that some guys really are kinda busts. Trent Richardson was given at least two chances too many because of his high draft pedigree but the Browns already knew he wasn’t going to make it. So how do you tell the difference? Honestly I have no idea.

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