Despite an early start I was able to catch Clemson’s one-sided defeat to South Carolina this weekend. I wanted to focus on Da’Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson) after a stunning season with 16 sacks and an interception which has firmly put him in the top-five bracket.
However, this was a difficult game to judge anyone on Clemson’s defense.
For starters, they spent nearly the entire game on the field. With the offense such a non-factor, it looked like a draining experience out there trying to stop USC’s star studded offense. Quarterback Stephen Garcia didn’t have too much trouble getting the ball to Alshon Jeffery who made 141 yards and a score from just five catches. If anything this performance made me further appreciate Janoris Jenkins’ (CB, Florida) excellent job v.s. Jeffery earlier this season.
The Gamecocks did a good job putting double or triple teams on Bowers, forcing him to pick through a maze to find the backfield. His great power and size was best exhibited when he moved inside and faced less traffic. Despite the almost constant attention to Clemson’s standout, he was able to get round the edge and create pressure on occassions. Bowers would’ve had a 17th sack of the season but for a blatant jersey grab which led to a holding call.
The real value comes in that he’ll fit any scheme. 4-3 teams can use him as a power end, capable of bursting off the edge and also moving inside on passing downs. Teams that use a 3-4 scheme will like his fit at five technique, he’s got the size (280lbs) for the role and this might actually be his best position at the next level. Seattle would use him in the Red Bryant position – a place he would thrive.
Derrick Morgan and Jason Pierre-Paul saw their stock limited a little last year due to their lack of scheme flexibility. Aside from Bowers’ physical brilliance and huge production this year, his ability to fit on any team will guarantee a high pick.
It was also a good weekend for other defensive prospects:
-Stephen Paea (DT, Oregon State) recorded his 6th sack of the year against Stanford. It’s only the 5th sack conceded by the Cardinal in 2010.
– Justin Houston (OLB, Georgia) added an interception against Georgia Tech to his 11 sacks for the year. He needs to prove coverage skills to teams looking for 3-4 OLB’s.
– Cameron Jordan (DE, California) returned a fumble 21-yards for a touchdown. He’ll be a 5-tech at the next level and will be a top-20 pick.
– Nick Fairley (DT, Auburn) had two more sacks against Alabama. Getting eleven sacks for the year is incredible for a defensive tackle.
– Von Miller (OLB, Texas A&M) also had two sacks against Texas and also an interception. He’s been lights out after a tough injury-hit start to 2010.
– J.J. Watt (DE, Wisconsin) followed up an interception last week with his 7th sack of the season against Northwestern. Another 5-tech prospect.
– Pernell McPhee (DE, Miss. State) got his second sack in as many weeks after a solid outing against Arkansas solidified a grade in the R2/3 range.