BBD Staff Writer: Joe Marino
There will be a plethora of NFL talent on display in Wednesday’s Capital One Bowl (1 p.m. ET, ABC) between Wisconsin and South Carolina. The headline player will be South Carolina junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, playing in what should be his final game before declaring for the 2014 NFL draft.
In what appears to be an evenly matched game, both teams have scored more than 34 points per game this season and have prolific rushing offenses.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina, Jr. (6’6’’, 274 lbs)
The spotlight has been on Clowney throughout his three seasons at South Carolina which has led to him being one of the most analyzed and debated players in recent memory.
Clowney has elite athleticism, strength, and quickness combined with the ideal frame for playing defensive end in the NFL. This shows up on tape with numerous “splash” plays that are a testament to the special ability Clowney has.
Clowney has elite pass-rushing potential. Opponents frequently dedicate multiple blockers in an attempt to slow him down. Clowney has sometimes been able to defeat double and triple teams and other times, they have freed up his fellow pass rushers to get after the quarterback. Either way, Clowney has a tremendous impact when rushing the passer. He has a wide range of pass-rush moves combined with the length and strength to create separation and execute them.
Clowney is capable of being a good run defender, but he is inconsistent in this capacity. At times, Clowney will get in full pass-rush mode and not play the run at all. Clowney can beat any offensive lineman with his quickness, which allows him to not have to use his hands as much when playing the run. He is athletic enough to be a good backside defender, but his technique and consistency in run defense are in question. Facing Wisconsin’s eighth-ranked rushing attack will be a good measuring stick for Clowney’s run-stopping ability.
The team that drafts Clowney will have to deal with the attention that will come with taking a player with as much potential as he has and with as much criticism as he has faced, but his ability should make him one of the first picks in the draft if not No. 1 overall.
Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin, Sr. (6’2’’, 190 lbs)
Abbrederis has been Wisconsin’s leading receiver in each of the past three seasons, and has been a very consistent player over that span. He has had at least 800 receiving yards and five touchdowns in every season since his sophomore year, and has averaged 15.8 yards per reception for his career.
Abbrederis is an excellent route runner who runs very precise routes and has impressive cuts down the field. He does not round off cuts, which challenges his opponents’ change-of-direction skills and allows him to create good separation down the field. He is a reliable hands catcher when the ball is thrown his way.
Abbrederis gives consistent effort on every snap. Whether Abbrederis is run blocking, blocking on a screen or is the last read for the quarterback, he plays with maximum effort. This is the type of consistency coaches love and that proves to be pesky for opposing defenses.
Abbrederis is competitive at the catch point and is able to high-point the ball and snatch it out of the air. He is not as reliable as he could be, however, catching the ball on short, contested passes.
He could also help a team as a punt and kickoff returner. He has good but not great athleticism, which might bring down his stock, but he can help a team in many ways.
Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin, Sr. (5’11’’, 246 lbs)
Borland has made a ton of plays in his career at Wisconsin. He has 47 career starts and has accumulated 408 career tackles, 50 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, eight fumble recoveries, three interceptions, 18 pass breakups and 14 forced fumbles.
Borland is a typical 3-4 thumper at inside linebacker. He is a downhill, physical player who functions well in small spaces and can excel when the play is in front of him.
He is best as a run defender but has flashed the ability to make plays against the pass as well. At Wisconsin, where he has been used as a blitzer both inside and off the edges, he has shown the ability to beat blocks with quickness against guards and with spin/rip moves against offensive tackles.
Borland can drop into pass coverage, but he is limited athletically and lacks sideline-to-sideline range. NFL teams will also be concerned about his lack of height.
Borland’s experience and prolific career production will catch NFL scouts’ attention. If you like giving prospects the “football player” label, Borland would be a classic example.
Victor Hampton, CB, South Carolina, Jr. (5’10’’, 202 lbs.)
South Carolina’s best cover corner, Victor Hampton, has already announced his intent to declare for the 2014 NFL Draft. He is coming off a solid junior season in which he produced 45 tackles, four tackles for loss, three interceptions and nine pass breakups.
Hampton is solid in man coverage and has quick feet and solid overall athleticism. He naturally mirrors his opponent and has good fluidity in his movements. Hampton has good ball skills and is competitive at the catch point.
Hampton is solid in run support and is not afraid to come up and make big hits on screens and short routes. He is a physical, wrap-up tackler.
Hampton has mid-round potential and he could rise up the board with a solid combine in February.
Jacob Pedersen, TE, Wisconsin, Sr. (6’5’’, 240 lbs.)
Pedersen has been the Badgers’ starting tight end since his sophomore year, and has 17 career touchdowns receptions. During his senior year, he set new career highs in receptions (36) and yards (501).
Pedersen has good size for the tight end position and decent athletic ability. He is a solid, functional blocker who can drive block defensive ends and get to the second level to seal off linebackers. He can be moved around to pull as a lead blocker or kept in to pass block with the quarterback in motion. He is a do-it-all type blocker.
As a receiver, Pedersen works the seams and intermediate routes well. He shows soft and reliable hands while usually catching the ball away from his body. He has long arms that provide his quarterback with a large catching radius.
Pedersen is a solid all-around tight end who projects in the middle to late rounds of the draft. He is set to be part of an intriguing group of tight ends to watch at the East-West Shrine Game.
See page 2 for more prospects to watch in this game.
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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Beau Allen, Bowl Games, Bowl Previews, Capital One Bowl, Chaz Sutton, Chris Borland, Connor Shaw, Dezmen Southward, Game Previews, Jacob Pedersen, Jadeveon Clowney, James White, Jared Abbrederis, Jimmy Legree, Kelcy Quarles, Prospect Previews, Ronald Patrick, Ryan Groy, South Carolina, Victor Hampton, Wisconsin