Here's something I never thought I'd say this season: The Gamecocks' freakish defensive end is no longer this draft's top prospect

By Andy Staples
October 01, 2013


When I started this exercise a few months ago, I figured one part would be easy. At least for this season, I’d never have to change the No. 1 player. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney combined potential and production so well his first two seasons that it seemed impossible he could be unseated.



Whoops. Clowney is playing through a painful foot injury, so he gets somewhat of a pass. But he hasn’t been able to affect games the way he did as a sophomore. This may be a function of South Carolina’s youth elsewhere on defense. Teams running away from Clowney last year ran into much more experienced, effective defenders and realized that strategy wouldn’t work. This year, running away from Clowney has produced positive results. Still, a player who tops every draft board should be able to make his presence felt more than Clowney has. So he drops from the No. 1 spot this week. But he doesn’t drop too far. After all, he’ll still get scooped up by any NFL team that needs a freakishly athletic defensive end—and that’s pretty much all of them.


2014 NFL Draft Big Board 5.0

Teddy Bridgewater

QB; Junior; Louisville; 6-3, 196

(Last Week: 2) Bridgewater probably won’t be tested in the slightest by Temple on Saturday.


Jadeveon Clowney

DE; Junior; University of South Carolina; 6-6, 274

(Last week: 1) Two tackles and only one hurry against a drop-back passer in a pro-style offense is less than what Clowney should be producing. Maybe it’s the foot injury, but his output is down.


Anthony Barr

LB; Senior; UCLA; 6-4, 245

(Last Week: 3) Want a good look at Barr? He and the Bruins will face Utah on Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.


Taylor Lewan

OT; Senior; Michigan; 6-8, 308

(Last Week: 4) Lewan said he wouldn’t apologize for being 4-0, but as a leader, he needs to help the Wolverines play better when Minnesota comes to Ann Arbor.


Jake Matthews

OT; Senior; Texas A&M; 6-5, 305

(Last Week: 5) Matthews and his offensive teammates will have to keep lighting up the scoreboard, because the Aggies’ defense isn’t helping.


Mike Evans

WR; Redshirt Sophomore; Texas A&M; 6-5, 225

(Last Week: 6) Evans caught six passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns against Arkansas.


De'Anthony Thomas

RB; Junior; Oregon; 5-9, 176

(Last Week: 7) Thomas injured his ankle Saturday against Cal. NFL coaches probably hope the Ducks don’t try to bring him back too early. Oregon certainly won’t need him against Colorado.


Aaron Murray

QB; Senior; Georgia; 6-1, 208

(Last Week: 15) Murray has shed the can’t-win-the-big-games tag. If he keeps playing this way, he’ll be visiting New York in December.


Cyrus Kouandjio

OT; Junior; Alabama; 6-6, 310

(Last Week: 9) Kouandjio has been solid all season, but his linemates have had issues. They seemed to correct those issues against Ole Miss in Saturday’s second half, and Alabama’s backs were thankful.


Johnny Manziel

QB; Redshirt Sophomore; Texas A&M; 6-1, 200

(Last Week: 10) The win at Arkansas was a ho-hum game for Manziel (320 yards total offense, two touchdown passes), but he still dominated the Razorbacks.


AJ McCarron

QB; Senior; Alabama; 6-4, 214

(Last Week: 12) With Alabama’s line and backs faltering in the first half, McCarron completed 20 of 23 passes and helped the Crimson Tide build a nine-point halftime lead.


Tajh Boyd

QB; Senior; Clemson; 6-1, 225

(Last Week: 13) Boyd threw for 311 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 69 yards and a touchdown in an easy win against Wake Forest.


C.J. Mosley

LB; Senior; Alabama; 6-2, 232

(Last Week: 21) Even though Ole Miss plays at a high tempo, Mosley always had Alabama in the correct alignment during Saturday’s win.


Stephon Tuitt

DE; Junior; Notre Dame; 6-6, 303

(Last Week: 11) Tuitt had a tackle for loss and two hurries against Oklahoma, but it’s tough to bring down a mobile quarterback as big as most defensive linemen. (OK, Blake Bell isn’t THAT big.)


James Hurst

OT; Senior; North Carolina; 6-7, 305

(Last Week: 15) Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, Hurst doesn’t play defense.


Zach Mettenberger

QB; Senior; LSU; 6-5, 235

(Last Week: Not Ranked) Mettenberger always had the measurables and the arm, but he struggled to guide the offense before coordinator Cam Cameron came along. Now, Mettenberger is leading a dynamic offense. At Georgia, he completed 23 of 37 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns.


Sammy Watkins

WR; Junior; Clemson; 6-1, 205

(Last Week: 16) Watkins caught six passes for 113 yards and a touchdown against Wake Forest.


Louis Nix III

DT; Junior; Notre Dame; 6-3, 340

(Last Week: 8) Nix got pushed around by Oklahoma’s offensive linemen. Meanwhile, Sooners center Gabe Ikard probably made himself some money.


Ryan Shazier

LB; Junior; Ohio State; 6-2, 222

(Last Week: 17) Shazier led the Buckeyes with nine tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss in the win against Wisconsin. His leadership will be even more important with safety Christian Bryant out for the year because of an ankle injury.


Will Sutton

DT; Senior; Arizona State; 6-1, 305

(Last Week: 20) Sutton returned to his disruptive ways against USC with two tackles for loss—including a sack.


Braxton Miller

QB; Junior; Ohio State; 6-2, 215

(Last Week: 18) After missing two games with a knee injury, Miller threw for 198 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 83 yards.


Jason Verrett

CB; Senior; TCU; 5-10, 176

(Last Week: 21) Verrett left the SMU game with a right shoulder injury, but Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson sounded as if keeping Verrett out was a precautionary measure. He should be ready to play at Oklahoma on Saturday.


Marcus Mariota

QB; Redshirt Sophomore; Oregon; 6-4, 211

(Last Week: 23) On a rainy night not fit for throwing, Mariota completed 11 of 25 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 33 yards and a touchdown.


David Yankey

OG; Senior; Stanford; 6-5, 311

(Last Week: 23) Yankey missed the Washington State game while dealing with an undisclosed family issue. Stanford has not announced whether he’ll be back for Saturday’s game against Washington.


Kyle Van Noy

LB; Senior; BYU; 6-3, 245

(Last Week: 24) Van Noy had seven tackles against Middle Tennessee on Friday.


Loucheiz Purifoy

CB; Junior; Florida; 6-1, 189

(Last Week: 25) Purifoy was slowed by a thigh bruise suffered against Tennessee, but he played against Kentucky. Another corner made the headlines in that game, but Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III is only a freshman and won’t be eligible for the Big Board for two years.


Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

S; Junior; Alabama; 6-1, 208

(Last Week: 31) Clinton-Dix’s flip of Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell early in Saturday’s first quarter forced a turnover on downs in Alabama territory and set the tone for the Alabama defense for the entire game.


Timmy Jernigan

DT; Junior; Florida State; 6-2, 298

(Last Week: 28) Though Florida State’s defense struggled early against Boston College, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher—after watching the film—said Jernigan and his fellow linemen turned in their best performances of the season. The issues, Fisher said, were at linebacker.


Cyril Richardson

OG; Baylor; 6-5, 335

(Last Week: 31) After watching West Virginia’s defense shut down Oklahoma State’s offense, it should be fun to watch Richardson get his first real challenge of the season.


Adrian Hubbard

LB; Redshirt Junior; Alabama; 6-6, 252

(Last Week: 32) The pass rush generated by Hubbard and company in the second half against Ole Miss allowed Alabama to play split safeties and eliminate big passing plays.


Derek Carr

QB; Senior; Fresno State; 6-3, 218

(Last Week: 29) Carr completed 32 of 47 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns at Hawaii, but he also threw two interceptions.


Jared Abbrederis

WR; Redshirt Senior; Wisconsin; 6-2, 190

(Last Week: Not Ranked) Even though Ohio State knew he was the only real threat in the passing game, Abbrederis still caught 10 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown. That the former walk-on* caught several of those passes with Bradley Roby covering him is even more impressive.

*Another guy who came to Wisconsin as a walk-on? J.J. Watt.


Bradley Roby

CB; Redshirt Junior; Ohio State; 5-11, 192

(Last Week: 26) See above. Want to be a first-round corner? Stop the other team’s best receiver.


Marqise Lee

WR; Junior; USC; 6-0, 195

(Last Week: 27) Maybe things will get better for Lee now that Lane Kiffin isn’t calling the plays anymore.


Zack Martin

OT; Senior; Notre Dame; 6-4, 304

(Last Week: 33) If quarterback Tommy Rees isn’t going to put any air under the ball, Martin and his linemates will have to work to get pass rushers’ hands down to stop all the batted balls at the line of scrimmage.


Antonio Richardson

OT; Junior; Tennessee; 6-6, 327

(Last Week: 39) Richardson played well against South Alabama. The Volunteers’ defense didn’t, and fans weren’t thrilled that their team almost lost a bodybag game at home. So Richardson sent a tweet (since deleted) poking fun at the fan reaction. He’ll need to stop worrying about the fans and start worrying about Georgia’s pass rush.


Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

CB; Junior; Oregon; 5-10, 190

(Last Week: 34) A driving rain limited Cal to only 45 pass attempts, but one still wound up in the hands of Ekpre-Olomu.


Khalil Mack

LB; Senior; Buffalo; 6-3, 245

(Last Week: 35) Mack had eight tackles and a sack in the win that got Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni fired.


Anthony Johnson

DT; Junior; LSU; 6-3, 294

(Last Week: 36) We can’t call it a FAT GUY INT if the touchdown-scorer in question is a genetic anomaly who manages to pack 294 pounds into a frame with shockingly little body fat.


Jordan Matthews

WR; Senior; Vanderbilt; 6-3, 205

(Last Week: 37) Matthews caught eight passes for 115 yards and a touchdown against UAB.


Trent Murphy

LB; Redshirt Senior; Stanford; 6-6, 261

(Last Week: 38) We continue with our theme of very large people intercepting passes. Murphy took this one to the house.


Ka'Deem Carey

RB; Junior; Arizona; 5-10, 207

(Last Week: 46) On a sloppy night at Washington, Carey ran for 132 yards and a touchdown.


Odell Beckham Jr.

WR; Junior; LSU; 6-0, 193

(Last Week: 42) Beckham caught six passes for 118 yards against Georgia.


Jarvis Landry

WR; Junior; LSU; 6-1, 195

(Last Week: Not Ranked) It’s only fitting that Landry and Beckham be listed next to one another. Landry caught 10 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown against Georgia.


Darqueze Dennard

CB; Senior; Michigan State; 5-11, 188

(Last Week: 43) Dennard could have a quiet day against a grind-it-out Iowa team.


Xavier Su’a-Filo

OG; Junior; UCLA; 6-3, 304

(Last Week: 44) Thursday’s visit to Utah is a homecoming for Su’a-Filo, who grew up in the Salt Lake City area. In fact, his Timpview High team won a state title in 2008 at Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium.


Travis Swanson

C; Senior; Arkansas; 6-5, 315

(Last Week: 45) Swanson dominated Texas A&M’s defensive line, but pretty much everyone is dominating Texas A&M’s defensive line. Swanson will face a much tougher challenge at Florida.


Max Bullough

LB; Senior; Michigan State; 6-3, 242

(Last Week: Not Ranked) While Dennard’s day may be quiet, Bullough will be in the middle of the action. He hasn’t forgotten the way Iowa rammed the ball down the Spartans’ throats last year on a long touchdown drive that forced overtime.


Scott Crichton

DE; Redshirt Junior; Oregon State; 6-3, 265

(Last Week: 50) Crichton had two tackles for loss in the Beavers’ win against Colorado.


Lache Seastrunk

RB; Redshirt Junior; Baylor; 5-10, 210

(Last Week: 49) West Virginia’s defense didn’t let Oklahoma State run wild. Can Seastrunk and the Bears crack the Mountaineers?

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