Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


NFL Combine aftermath: Jadeveon Clowney

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: February 25, 2014 - 1:47 PM

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was already considered as the most talented prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft and all he did was help his case at the NFL Combine.

But is he worthy of the top overall pick? And how would that impact the Vikings?

Clowney measured at 6-5, 270 pounds with 10-inch hands and an 83-inch wingspan. He led all defensive ends running the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, a 37.5-inch vertical jump and 124-inch broad jump.

The only area to knock Clowney would be that he had 21 reps on the bench press. He also didn’t perform with his group during on-field workouts and will do sat his Pro Day. Both are nitpicking however.

There’s no question he has the talent to be the first overall pick and a game-changing defensive end. His motivation has been the biggest question. Clowney said that he would’ve left for the NFL last year if he had the chance. 

"Going into last season I had a lot of high expectations of myself," Clowney said. "Things don't always happen like you plan on. I was really trying to break the [career] sack record for us for the next guys coming in. There were a lot of ups and downs but we won 11 games, were 11-2, won our bowl games, finished fourth in the country for the first time in South Carolina history. So I was pretty excited about the season. I wasn't worried about my stats really."

There are four teams with quarterback needs that pick ahead of the Vikings, along with the Jaguars, Browns and Raiders. If the Texans pick Clowney, it leaves Minnesota a better chance at landing either Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel or UCF quarterback Blake Bortles.Not every one of those teams will pick a quarterback because there are really good non-quarterback prospects like Clowney, Buffalo linebacker Kahlil Mack, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, and Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson.

The Texans’ decision will likely come down to Clowney or one of those three quarterbacks (probably Bortles or Manziel). The rest of the pieces will fall in place thereafter and alter who the Vikings pick with the eighth spot or maybe even trade out of the position.

But whoever gets Clowney will get a once-in-a-generation type talent. And the Texans would have a scary defensive line with Clowney and J.J. Watt.

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