Jadeveon Clowney, the first overall pick as a linebacker out of South Carolina, is heavily expected to form an incredibly dangerous pass-rushing duo with defensive end J.J. Watt.
Watt is 6’5″ and weighs 289 pounds. Clowney is 6’5″ and weights 265 pounds. Both players have been able to produce plenty of frustration for the opposition’s offense, and have constantly pressured the quarterback. There is no question Watt is going to do it for years to come, having 36.5 sacks over three years, but can Clowney do it?
Maybe a more appropriate question is, can Clowney have a better rookie season than Watt?
For starters, in Watt’s rookie season, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips ran a 3-4 where Watt and Antonio Smith would penetrate the line, and the linebackers behind them would take care of the work they left behind.
With Romeo Crennel being the new defensive coordinator, his 3-4 system uses a lineman to attack the person in front, in order to draw double-teams so that the linebackers have an easier time not having to deal with the offensive linemen as much.
Now that we have the new defensive schemes out of the way, we have to remember it’s still unsure of where Clowney will play. He could be a linebacker or a defensive end, but the Texans are weighing their options right now.
Watt had a solid season in 2011, where he had 48 tackles, 5.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and four passes defended. Nothing great compared to his 2012 and 2013 seasons, however.
Watt’s 2011 stats can easily be topped by Clowney, so he definitely can have a more remarkable rookie season than Watt. But it all comes down to whether or not Crennel’s defensive scheme will help Clowney out more than the way Phillips’ helped Watt’s. It also depends on how and where the Texans want to use Clowney.
But overall, it is very likely that if these two players form a strong pass-rushing duo throughout their careers, it’s quite possible we’ll remember Clowney’s extraordinary rookie season better than J.J. Watt’s.