Posted: 12:34 pm Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Clowney wants to be a Falcon. I’d like that, too 

By Mark Bradley

I'm guessing he's better than Aundray Bruce. (John Raoux/AP)

I’m guessing he’s better than Aundray Bruce. (John Raoux/AP)

Jadeveon Clowney told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com Saturday that he hopes the Atlanta Falcons will move to draft him. I’m on record as believing the Falcons need a great defensive lineman more than they need a great offensive lineman. (Though it is, I’ll concede, a tough call.) Since Thomas Dimitroff has said he’s open to the possibility of trading up — it would have been big news if the general manager had said he wasn’t — we ask:

Could Clowney-to-the-Falcons actually happen?

Yes, it could. Yes, it might. Were I an oddsmaker, I’d assess the chances at 51-49 that he’ll land in the A-T-L. But there’s a reason I’m no oddsmaker.

The Falcons hold the sixth pick in Round 1. Of the five teams that will choose ahead of them, four — Houston at No. 1, Jacksonville at No. 3, Cleveland at No. 4 and Oakland at No. 5 — have need of a quarterback. There’s a chance the Texans could take Clowney No. 1 overall. (They famously took defensive lineman Mario Williams No. 1 ahead of Reggie Bush in 2006.) There’s also the chance that St. Louis, which has a quarterback in Sam Bradford, could take Clowney with the No. 2 pick. But the Rams already have a pretty good defense.

Conventional wisdom, at least at the moment, is that the Texans will take a quarterback, leaving the Clowney decision to St. Louis. The Rams’ general manager is Les Snead, who worked 15 years for the Falcons and was the director of player personnel under Dimitroff. In his latest mock draft, Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports has the Falcons taking Clowney after a trade with St. Louis.

Some point to Clowney’s indifferent junior season at South Carolina as cause to believe he’ll be another Aundray Bruce, the flameout taken No. 1 overall by the Falcons in 1988. But I believe in Dimitroff in a way I never have in any Falcons GM, and I believe he can sift through the data and differentiate between what’s probable, as opposed to possible.

Does Clowney’s tepid 2013 give me pause? Yes. Even Steve Spurrier, his coach, told the NFL Network that Clowney’s work ethic “was OK,” which nobody construed as a rave. But Spurrier also said: “When the ball is snapped, he’s got something going nobody else did.”

Fun with numbers: According to Football Outsiders‘ DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) ratings, the Falcons’ defense ranked 25th among NFL teams in 2008, 22nd in 2009, 14th in 2010, eighth in 2011, 12th in 2012 and 29th in 2013. Put another way, the Falcons under Dimitroff and Mike Smith have compiled a top 10 defense only once in six tries, and the slippage from 2012 to 2013 — 17 spots — was alarming.

The offense has Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson, Julio Jones and Roddy White. The defense is in much worse shape than the offense, which even in a down year ranked 14th in FO’s DVOA. I believe the Falcons can find good offensive linemen later in this draft or in free agency. I believe there’s but one Jadeveon Clowney available.

108 comments
AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

Jadeveon Clowney is the answer, period.

RandyFalcon
RandyFalcon

The Falcons need more than one player. Based on that I would not waste draft picks by trading up. If Clowney is still there at 6 OK. If you take Robison or Matthews at 6 you'll see an improvement in the entire offense. Ryan's chances of playing the entire season increase dramatically. I'd even consider trading down if I could stay in the top 10 and get a decent draft pick. Clowney could well be a bust. Just not a good gamble for the Falcons at this time. 

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

Clowney will turn out to be the next Aundray Bruce...........mark my words..........huge talent with no desire or drive to excell in the NFL!....................whoever drafts him will find this out...........Robinson or Matthews is a much better choice for the Falcons!

Digitalsapien
Digitalsapien

Clown is a once in a generation talent. If you have a reasonable chance of getting him, you would be a fool not to. Is there risk? Yes. Should the Falcons take the risk? Unequivocally, YES!

LeftisnotRight
LeftisnotRight

I,m sold on Clowney's ability, but what has been reported about him, indicates he will not maintain his demonstrated high level of play.

TwoDrinksIn
TwoDrinksIn

clowney = aundray bruce 2!  the falcons will waste another draft pick, as usual.

all_i_am_saying_is
all_i_am_saying_is

Falcons need players emphasis on plural.  Clowney is the sexy choice but has anyone noticed how awful the offensive line is?  The smart move is to trade down to get more picks.

Esquire
Esquire

No doubt for TD it's the sexy pick to take JC (no that's not Jesus Christ) and that worries me.  It's the kinda horsetrading that makes Dimi think this proves Arthur needs him.  Well, with Pioli waiting in the wings Dimi is under scrutiny to not make the idiotic moves he made last year.  You don't think Dimi went to Arthur and said he needed help do you?  There is only one way to know if the Falcons should have taken JC or not and that's hindsight. 

WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

I am afraid you are way off on this one Mark,

I would love to have the kid, but it just doesnt' measure up.

He has the same work ethic as  Brother Richt.

Work ethic is a hard thing to weigh for a GM, but not in this case.

We have heard about his work effort even back to his freshman year.

I know you hate Steve along with the Ga homers, but he won't lie to you.

He doesn't publically trash the kid, but anyone that knows Spurrier, can tell

he is not giving the kid a ringing endorsement.

I would hope you would know this.

WB  

AndyMcCullough
AndyMcCullough

Clowney is a stud and no Audrey Bruce.  But speaking of Auburn players, I prefer a scenerio where we stay pat & draft OT Greg Robinson but then move back into late Round 1 to draft DE Dee Ford by trading 2nd round and other picks.  If we walk away with those two players, we get better on both lines.

notPlanB
notPlanB

I think all this means nothing until we find out what FA's we get, if any.

notPlanB
notPlanB

On the value chart, the 2nd pick is worth 2600 points. The 6th pick is worth 1600 points. We would have to give the Rams an additional 1000 points. Our 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th round picks are worth a total of 928 points. Not enough even if we give up all our picks minus compensitory picks. Trading to 4th gives up 600 points, 4th gives up 200 points and 5th gives up only 100 points. TD gives up too much when trading up. Why not take what we are given. There will be a good player there at #6. The article says 5 teams want QB's and  St Louis has a good defense. Maybe Clowney will be there. If not get back to what we need, OL!!

TomGaff
TomGaff

I think it is too big of a risk with Clowney to stay motivated after he gets the big money. I like the rugged LB Mack from Buffalo State at pick #6!

OhPlease
OhPlease

I think Jadeveon Clowney will be more like JaMarcus Russell than Aundray Bruce.  My fear is that as soon as he get's that big pay day, he will have little to no incentive to put in the effort to be what it takes to become a great player.  Hopefully I am wrong for his sake and for the sake of the team that chooses him.

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

I wouldn't make a trade similar to what the Falcons did to get Julio Jones. The Falcons need all the draft picks they can get. I think there are several pass rushers available. If the Falcons draft Greg Robinson, or Matthews or the Bolito kid in the second round-- I wouldn't be upset....

MikeS777
MikeS777

I don't have any confidence right now in Dimitroff.  Mark, the 2013 disaster was directly precipitated by offseason moves the team made.  They released Grimes and Robinson, thinking rookies would be able to replace them.  They wanted a pass rush, so they bring in Umenyiora.  However, they offset that by releasing Abraham as if Umenyiora alone was going to improve things.  The pass rush was still bad if not worse, and the secondary was literally clueless most of the season.  That's why they dropped so far in the rankings.  By the way, Grimes and Abraham both made the Pro Bowl this year.


Then you look at the offensive side.  They let Clabo go and replaced him with a journeyman that couldn't block.  They let Turner go for Jackson who couldn't stay on the field due to constant injuries.  


So basically what you had in 2013 was a step by step clinic on how to dismantle a team that was one play away from a Super Bowl.  You can't get rid of all those players and expect to keep things rolling.  What happened to "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"?


Granted, the Falcon's dealt with injuries on a scale that only the Georgia Bulldogs of last year could rival.  That's about the only silver lining in the whole 2013 debacle.  IF Jackson, Jones, Weatherspoon, Biermann and the rest come back healthy, can this team really get back to the playoffs?

MikeS777
MikeS777

I say yes, but only if they don't have to give up the farm to do it.  We need a LOT of solid players on both sides of the line.  I think Clowney will be the real deal, but it's hard to justify giving up as much as they did for Jones again.  Then again, if he can help the pass rush opposite Umenyiora, then it would be worth it.


They really need that LT from A&M as much if not more than Clowney.  Both lines are in shambles right now, and the D line was not that good even before they let Abraham go.  The Falcons need to sell out for both lines this offseason.  They won't ever get near the playoffs with the same line play from 2013.  


AseLeslie
AseLeslie

DEFENSE Wins Championships!!!!! ask Baltimore, ask Seattle!!!!!!

Wilbo
Wilbo

Have you watched the Clowney combine interview w Josina Anderson? http://espn.go.com/nfl/draft2014/story/_/id/10507312/dee-ford-says-better-jadeveon-clowney

There's a move now to label any criticism of Clowney's work ethic as racist. Think where that put Steve Spurrier. Even the tiniest hint of racism could sink you like a stone in the recruiting wars, so Spurrier has had to be extremely guarded and cautious in what he says about Clowney and his attitude. What if we could hear what Spurrier really thinks? I say Clowney has ISSUES written all over him, and I think Dimitroff and the Falcons are just stupid enough to trade up and prove that.


That whole man amongst boys thing works in college, but when you get to the NFL where freaks of nature abound and everybody is crazy strong and crazy fast, talent alone is not going to get you by. Drafting up for Julio Jones and leaving holes all over both lines-- is that a lesson the Falcons are going to ignore again? The Falcons need playERS, not one more big shaky risk.

warfalcon
warfalcon

T.D. go for it, these CLOWNS does not know anything about football, they can not run or catch a football. Just a bunch nay Sayers, we`re domed, he`s going to be a bust and he`s another Aundary Bruce. T.D IF YOU CAN GO FOR IT, forget these CLOWNS.

LETS GO FALCONS

monty1
monty1

The tape on Mack makes him appear to be a grabber with his hands and then sits down to use leverage to bring down the runner or QB, in other words he doesn't blow people up with shoulder tackles and raw power. Really handsy kinda technique.

monty1
monty1

Just watched the tape of Mack and he seems (to me) to be an arm tackler. Grabs with his hands(Jersey) then sort of sits down in order to use leverage to bring QB down. In other words he doesn't just blow plays up with shoulder tackles knocking folks off their feet. Sort of a grabber. No expert here, but that's how it looks to me.

GSU93
GSU93

No way should the Falcons give up any picks after they gave up about 20 for Julio (who has proven to be injury-prone btw).  They need to sit tight and draft Barr or Mack. If anything, they might try to drop back a spot or two and get an extra pick.  They need depth bad, especially on D.

reckingball
reckingball

You have a lot more faith in the GM than I do.

Just_Saying
Just_Saying

We can all agree that the man has talent but trading up comes with too much risk for our Falcons.  He didn't play as well last year compared to the year before.  He never had the best work ethic in college.  Whoever signs him needs to find out if he wants to be an elite defensive lineman or just a millionaire.  Some of the numbers he's showing at the combine suggest the latter.

ATL89
ATL89

Author Blank said "we are going to continue to build through the draft", building through the draft does not mean trading up to get one player, build through the draft means taking the best guy for you at that pick, or trading down to get more picks that gives the opportunity to get it RIGHT on picks.

inoto20
inoto20

TD and this organization is stupid if they trade up. This guy is NOT a sure thing. And they have several needs. The most stupid part is  all they had to do was let washington catch the stupid 2 point conv and they wouldn't be in this quandry. Now because hey let's defend this attempt, it will cost them if they try and move up. Can you say idiots! I was saying in that game it will cost them a few spots in the draft and yep sure did.

Obama_Joke
Obama_Joke

Oh, Bark.  ESPN loves people like you.  You eat up their propaganda.  

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

I'd like to believe in Dimitroff and I do when I see Red Ryan, Julio Jones (though hasn't he missed as many games as he's played?), Weatherspoon and the two DBs from last season. However, I also see Pariah Jerry, and at least three real busts offensive linemen. Add in the Minnesota underwear model to balance out Tony Gonzalez and you have a really spotty record.

Princess_Leia
Princess_Leia

Pass on Clowney. He's another bust, a carbon copy of Aundray Bruce.

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

He's not going to fall to the Falcons. And we really don't need to give up extra picks to move up for him. Pick a great OL prospect like Robinson or Mathews, or the LB from Buffalo, Mack.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

What would be rich is if we pass on him and he wins Rookie of the year, ------ if you do  ------if you dont. Just dont trade up we need some youth and depth.

JaySly
JaySly

overdraft, overpay clowney---thomas will get it done! trade a bunch of picks!!!

BRAVES2143
BRAVES2143

I'm not saying Clowney will not be a decent pro football player but for a team that has needs in a lot of places  (OL, DL, TE, RB) it would be stupid, I repeat stupid, to trade away multiple high draft picks to get any player.   It's going to cost the team next years first round pick, another high pick (2 or 3) this year and probably a couple of late rounders and that is too much for a team that is not one player away from the Super Bowl to give up.    If for some reason Clowney drops to the 6th spot then yes take him or better yet trade the pick for a King's Ranson to a team that is one player away from a championship but don't take 3 steps backwards just to get one player.  

GT71
GT71

Falcon fans better hope he's gone when they pick.  But they'll probably trade up, lose valuable slots/players and get an egotistical, lazy and not too bright team disrupter.

But he'll be fodder for ATL sports writers for a few years...hey, THAT'S why MB favors this.

stingemyall
stingemyall

Please don't waste another first rounder on an SEC bust. Does Jamaal Anderson and Peria Jerry come to mind?

Radar123
Radar123

We do not need to trade up for a player who goofed off his last year in college.

And I am not at all convinced we need to spend the 6th pick on him either.

The only way trading up would work is if he deservedly falls to late first round.

notPlanB
notPlanB

I'm OK with that if we get a couple of good FA OL. I just know we can't go another year with the OL we had last year.

Dasdguy
Dasdguy

@MikeS777

I dont think spoon can remain uninjured throughout 2014 season. Bierman..we'll see.

Esquire
Esquire

@AseLeslie  ....and New Orleans won a Lombardi on a 20th plus ranked defense...and even they were paying bounties to injure opposing players.

SimpleDawg
SimpleDawg

@Wilbo


Most of the players Spurrier identified as having a great work ethic are black. Calling a spade a shovel isn't racist.....it's answering a question truthfully.


I remember early in the season, Clowney was missing practice for minor issues ( Spurrier's opinion ), so SOS said Clowney wasn't going to play without practicing. Suddenly, the injuries/issues disappeared.


I'm no fan of Spurrier, but he will give you an unfiltered answer to a direct question.....like it or not.

notPlanB
notPlanB

Who the HELL put you in charge of knowing all. There is nothing like the stupidity of one saying things about people and not knowing what their credentials are. You act like you and TD are smart. Two wrongs don't make a right.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@Just_Saying He wants to be a millionaire, he did the same thing those 6 draft picks off the dawgs from 2 years ago did. Play it safe all year so they could fill a safe full of money after they signed. That Ogletree is playing his azz off now.

zuzu331
zuzu331

@inoto20 Yep,that shows where the REAL problem with the Atlanta Falcons lies,they mess around all year long,then play just hard enough at the end to screw themselves out of a Good draft...

notPlanB
notPlanB

@ inoto20 - agreeing completely on that last play. We would have had that 2nd pick. My thoughts were hoping we would keep playing hard but losing the remaining games when all was lost but I thought we could have played most all the game using A Smith at RB and C Coffman at TE. If Smith is a fumbler, we lose and know his grade. If Coffman can't block, we know we have to adjust our thinking on TE's. At least we would have knowledge that we don't have now.

dggfhb
dggfhb

@inoto20  It's funny because I was saying the exact same thing. I was watching that game and when that play happen I said " Desmond just tipped away Clowney".

SimpleDawg
SimpleDawg

@stingemyall Don't confuse stupid assessment and selection of certain players with the level of talent coming out of the SEC.