South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney hasn't looked like Superman his first couple games. And Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has.
Clowney's so-so start forced folks who desperately want to be heard to claim he was overrated based on one highlight hit. All that shows is that they saw exactly one play of Clowney, an amazing talent, during last season.
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Opposing teams are staying far away from Clowney, making sure they avoid his side. He was in and out of the lineup in South Carolina's first game and he looked tired, but there were reports he was battling an illness. Part of the problem with judging Clowney solely on stats like sacks is it doesn't take into account that teams can game plan to avoid a defensive end.
If you paid attention to Clowney before he blew up Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl, you know he's a legitimately fearsome defensive end. NFL teams understand what he brings to the table. However, that's not to say Bridgewater wouldn't also be a smart choice for whatever NFL team gets the first pick.
Bridgewater, a fantastic pocket passer, has 752 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception, with a 76.7 completion percentage. Scoff at the competition, but his early-season work is just reinforcing what we knew already.
Through the season we're going to be checking in on the 2014 draft, seeing whose stock is moving up and down, and projecting who will go at the top of the draft. There are a few guys in the Alabama-Texas A&M game who you might wanna take a look at, because plenty of them will play on Sundays. And through the year, the Clowney-Bridgewater debate will be fun to track.
The premature 2014 mock draft
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
If you're Jacksonville, and you desperately need a quarterback, can you pass on Bridgewater? If you don't have a quarterback in the NFL you are in trouble, and he's the best one available. But it's so hard to pass on ...
2. Oakland Raiders
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
Whoever gets the second pick might be relieved. You can't be second-guessed when you have the No. 2 pick in this draft. Just pick whoever doesn't go first, and avoid the debate.
3. Arizona Cardinals
Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews
It's crazy that last year's Aggies had the No. 2 pick of the 2013 draft (Luke Joeckel) and one of the safest bets for a top 10 pick in the 2014 draft (Matthews) at the tackle spots.
4. Cleveland Browns
UCLA QB Brett Hundley
There are so many good quarterbacks in college football, this could change by season's end. But Hundley has such a nice combination of skills – size, athleticism, arm strength, accuracy – that if the redshirt sophomore does come out for the draft, he won't last long.
5. San Diego Chargers
Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio
We're all going to watch the big showdown on Saturday, right? Do yourself a favor and focus on the Crimson Tide's monstrous and athletic left tackle.
6. Buffalo Bills
UCLA LB Anthony Barr
Edge rusher gives them another playmaker on defense.
7. New York Jets
Oregon RB-WR De’Anthony Thomas
Not likely to give up on Geno early, so they give him an offensive weapon.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Michigan OT Taylor Lewan
An upgrade over the overrated Donald Penn.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
North Carolina OT James Hurst
They have to get this position right eventually, for Ben’s sake.
10. Minnesota Vikings
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd
Christian Ponder suddenly has some competition.
11. Tennessee Titans
Notre Dame DT Louis Nix
They need a difference maker up front on this defense.
12. Miami Dolphins
Florida CB Louchiez Purifoy
Have been rebuilding secondary since April, but more work to do.
13. St. Louis Rams
Alabama S HaHa Clinton-Dix
Hey hey, a true difference maker at position the Rams need help at.
14. Washington Redskins (owned by Rams)
Stanford OG David Yankey
Continued reinforcements up front for burgeoning Rams offense.
15. New York Giants
Notre Dame DL Stephon Tuitt
Justin Tuck’s eventual replacement? Giants always seek talent, depth up front.
16. Carolina Panthers
Clemson WR Sammy Watkins
Steve Smith says he has a few seasons left; ample time to pass the baton.
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
I know, I wouldn't be surprised if some teams took him off their board. There's just so much about Manziel off the field that makes you wonder if he's more trouble than he's worth. But then he plays.
If you knew nothing about Manziel but what you've seen between the whistles, you'd think of him differently. He's dynamic, an unbelievable runner and a pretty good passer too (imagine him in Chip Kelly's offense in Philadelphia? Wow). He has 497 passing yards and six touchdowns already this season despite missing a half, so he's picked up right where he left off from his Heisman season. But being a NFL quarterback is more than just what you do on the field. You take Manziel, you get the whole package. That's what makes him a bit scary.
Let's check back in on Johnny Football after he plays Alabama's defense on Saturday. If he has another amazing game against them ... it would be pretty tough to pass on him next May, wouldn't it?
USC WR Marqise Lee
This isn't totally his fault. He plays for a coach in Lane Kiffin who has no business holding the job he does. But still ... 15 catches for 131 yards in two games, without a gain longer than 19 yards for a guy projected as a possible top 10 pick is a little concerning. And blaming the quarterback isn't completely fair. USC's two quarterbacks are both four-star recruits who were ranked No. 2 and No. 3 at their position in their recruiting class. Just about every school would love to have two four-star quarterback recruits. Blame the coaching, but there's talent at USC – that's not the problem. If Lee has a down season (see Clemson's Sammy Watkins last year), teams would have to look very closely at the reasons why.