6-year veteran and former first overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. Clowney has spent 5 seasons with the Houston Texans, and, amid a contract dispute prior to the 2019 season, was traded to Seattle for 2 players and a 3rd round pick. Until Chase Young, Clowney might be the most hyped prospect in years, but he hasn’t lived up to the hype; playing 16 games just once, failing to post a season with double digit sacks, and consistently missing stretches of time. Clowney has missed 19 games due to injury and has played in 75. In a contract year for Seattle, Clowney played 13 games, tallied 3 sacks and played just 57% of the team’s snaps and recently turned 27 in February.
Good versatility playing 3-4 EDGE and 4-3 DE from both sides of the ball. The athleticism isn’t what it was coming out of college, but possess the AA to play outside in 7-tech and wide-9. Still maintains the good build he had coming out of college. Solid get-off and explosiveness off the LOS; gets into the OL and does a good job initiating the contact. Upon contact, keeps his balance and displays good array of moves that are used to setup a move later on; continues to go with the bull rush, gets the OL in a predictable counter to his power move, and then does a solid job swimming the OL or ripping through and bending around the Tackle. When he gets his hips and pads low and plays with leverage, has a very good, powerful bull rush. Good UOH when he’s mentally engaged in the game; when he’s setting up his opponent, or heavily involved in the game he does a good job with his hands to shed blocks, and continue his pursuit with leverage and good play speed to diagnose plays and attack. Good physicality in the run game; gets into the OL and uses good play strength to set a hard EDGE and force the ball carrier inside. Good pursuit angles with very good acceleration; quick first-step and suddenness allows him to run down backs behind the LOS and allows him to setup his opponent knowing he has to foot speed to get to the back/QB.
Doesn’t play in Goal line and short 3rd down situations. Pad level is an issue; although he’s initiating contact, he’s doing an adequate job staying lower than the opponent, and relying on the finesse game when he’s outside vs 1-on-1. Adequate lined up inside the 5-tech; primarily standing up, and doesn’t possess the power game and technique to consistently win inside. Adequate competitive toughness; takes too many plays off and when you only play 57% of the team’s snaps, the tape should reveal much more effort and lacks good stamina. If he strings together 2 or 3 consecutive good plays and is disruptive, he comes off the field.
Clowney’s sack number won’t impress anyone, but in just 2 games worth of film, had he been there a half-step sooner, he would have doubled that number. The issue with Clowney is the motor and real hustle. When he’s in and involved, he’s highly disruptive, when he’s going through the motions, he’s doesn’t engage with the Tackle, and teams go at him in the run game. When he’s off the field due to stamina reasons, he takes a couple more plays to re-engage. It can be troubling to watch given the fact the whole reason why he’s in Seattle is because he believes he’s worth way more than teams want to pay. To me, that’s a recipe for buyer’s remorse to say the least. Another lower body injury, or injury that can take away the athleticism could be devastating for his career and I think that’s where teams are with him now. But the hype around his strength and athleticism still remains.
The team’s that have the most cap this year aren’t necessarily the teams that typically go out and pour all their money into a few additions besides Miami, but I feel Miami’s plan isn’t to put that money into a guy like Clowney, especially with the depth at EDGE in the draft and other, younger, healthier options in FA. I think it’s unlikely the Colts and Bills give Clowney what he thinks he’s worth, and I believe he’s looking for at least $18M/season. The average between Za’Darius Smith, Frank Clark, and DeMarcus Lawrence is $19.43M/season, and according to the reports, Clowney wants a higher number. To me, this feels like a bad move we see from the usual teams: Raiders, Bengals, and even Washington. Although I think Rivera has more control than that, you can’t discount the Dan Snyder affect.