Draft King Analysis|
August 29, 2013
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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"You can never ever leave without leaving a piece of youth"
-Smashing Pumpkins "Tonight, Tonight"
The long, grueling wait ends tonight for college football fans with the start of the 2013 season. Out of the gate it's North Carolina vs. South Carolina with the nation's top NFL defensive prospect, Gamecocks DE Jadeveon Clowney, on national television. Because of the "three years removed" rule, Clowney missed out on a chance to be paid millions of dollars by an NFL team earlier this year, even though he would have been a lock to be a top five draft pick and likely wouldn't have slipped past Jacksonville at #2 overall.
Of course, like with anything else, the hype surrounding Clowney is starting to turn some people off. I've heard the word overrated said by friends and written on message boards and in YouTube comments. His 2013 Hit of the Year on New Year's Day against Michigan has been replayed ad nauseum on major sports networks and via the internet this off-season, and while it encapsulates his potential and ability in one huge play, it also has reached the point where he's overexposed to a degree, something that won't change this season if he stays healthy.
The real shame of this year's SEC schedule is that Clowney won't play against either of the conference's two top draft-eligible offensive tackle prospects, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews and Alabama's Cyrus Kouandijo, unless South Carolina faces one of them in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. He already faced Michigan OT Taylor Lewan in the aforementioned New Year's Day bowl game, and it's unlikely that the two teams will play again this season since bowl rematches from the year before are generally avoided whenever possible. At this point, his matchup with Tennessee OT Antonio Richardson in Knoxville on October 13 appears like his biggest challenge of the regular season.
At the same time, just writing about his hype on here adds to it to a degree, but I've been doing that for some time now. The reality is that most 6'6" 275 pound men can't move as fast or strike as hard as Clowney can. And while some will turn on him like a music group that becomes too popular too quickly, NFL scouts know that he's the real deal.
A little later tonight, perhaps the most widely heralded defensive prospect since Clowney, Ole Miss freshman DE Robert Nkemdiche (6'5" 265), will make his college football debut for the Rebels as they take on Vanderbilt. Nkemdiche was part of a fantastic recruiting class at Ole Miss and was a major coup being plucked out of the state of Georgia. It didn't hurt that Ole Miss already had his older brother, Denzel Nkemdiche, on its team, but it was a colossal recruiting battle. At one point Nkemdiche had verbally committed to Clemson, but in the end Ole Miss won out. You know, as if the SEC West wasn't loaded enough.
So, while Clowney won't necessarily face Matthews or Kouandijo, Nkemdiche will, at least barring something unforeseen happening. But it's not like the rest of the SEC teams are loaded with jobbers, plus both guys will be game-planned against and face frequent double-teams on a weekly basis. Also, barring a rule change (highly unlikely), Nkemdiche won't be NFL draft-eligible until 2016. Have fun with that, SEC West.
And, with that, let the games begin.