When I dreamed up this series, one of the problems I had was who to include and who to not even bother with. Jadeveon Clowney was originally in the 'not even bother' category for a couple reasons. For one, it seems a given that he'll be long gone in the first two or three picks, and thanks to free agency, the Vikings did a good job addressing needs at defensive end.
But I included Clowney for a couple of more reasons. Weird things happen on draft day, and guys that are consensus top five or ten picks inexplicably slide, like Aaron Rodgers or our own, tragically short armed Shariff Floyd. And when guys like that start sliding, teams that have trade happy GM's
sometimes put themselves in position to draft that player. And although Clowney probably won't be one of those guys that slide, his disappointing 2013 season, a season which he openly questioned whether or not he should even play to avoid injury, coupled with a work ethic that has teams questioning his 'motor' or 'desire', leaves a possibility for a draft day slide.
And if a guy the caliber of Clowney start sliding, yeah, it's worth talking about.
Why Jadeveon Clowney? He's considered the best defensive end prospect to come out of college since Bruce Smith, and his combination of size, speed, and ability is almost unheard of. If he utilizes his full potential, the sky is the limit for Clowney, and it would be fun to watch him in purple and gold for the next seven or eight years.
Why he'd be perfect for the Vikings: Even though the Vikings re-signed Everson Griffen and inked Corey Wootton, you can't have enough depth on the defensive line. Clowney gives the Vikings a force off the edge, and depth that would be almost unrivaled in the NFL.
You can make an argument that the VIkings need a quarterback a lot worse than they need a defensive end, but Clowney has more of a 'sure thing' feel about him than any quarterback in the draft. While the Vikings need to address the QB position, another first round miss would prove fatal to Rick Spielman as the GM, so it's not too difficult to think the Vikings might avoid going after a quarterback so high again. And if they do, Clowney could make a lot of sense...on the off chance he can be had.
With the departure of Jared Allen to Chicago (which still makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit, even though I am on board with the business reasoning), the Vikings need to replace the pressure Allen brought from the outside.
And Clowney would fill that need quite nicely.
Think about this for a minute. If the Vikings were somehow to draft Clowney, either by trade or draft day slide, the Vikings defensive line, from left to right, would be Brian Robison, Linval Joseph, Shariff Floyd, and Clowney/Griffen. If the Vikings go to a 3-4 alignment on some sets, you've got Robison/Joseph/Clowney as your down linemen, with Griffen as an outside LB coming off the edge. If you're the left tackle facing that alignment, I would almost feel sorry for you, because you're faced with a Sophie's Choice of a blocking assignment. Do you slide down and take on Clowney and let Griffen blow by you, or do you try to re-direct Griffen upfield and hope that the guard can move outside fast enough to stop Clowney?
Either way, something like this could happen on a fairly regular basis, and it would be glorious:
Yeah, I could live with that, if I had to. Much like I could live with Kate Upton if I was, you know, forced to and stuff.
Another thing to consider is new coach Mike Zimmer. As you know, his comfort zone is defense, and it's not a stretch to think he would jump at the chance to get a guy like Clowney on his team. With heavy edge pressure being the cornerstone of his defense, a 3-4 hybrid look that could potentially have Clowney on Griffen bringing it from the right side is something that's enticing. Granted, Griffen's foray into outside linebacker wasn't a successful one under the previous regime, but I'd like to think that a new coaching staff could change that, because physically, at least, it seems Griffen could do well in an occasional 3-4 OLB role.
Another thing is to consider Zimmer's comments about Johnny Manziel's pro day. Zimmer is either trolling the entire NFL right now...which would be awesome on so many levels...or he really does think that Johnny Manziel isn't worth the distractions. When you consider his area of expertise is on defense, it's not a stretch to think he would prefer getting a defensive guy in the first round.
If that's the case, it's tough to argue against the premiere rush end in the draft. And if, by some rare chance the Vikings find themselves in a position to grab him, they'd be foolish to not at least seriously consider it.