Stretching the Field: Do you believe the Clowney hype?

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Updated: 4/04 1:44 pm

(SportsNetwork.com) - Jadeveon Clowney is a freak of nature.

Clowney stands at 6-foot-6 and weighs 250 pounds. He can run the 40-yard dash in a mind-boggling 4.5 seconds, a swifter clip than Doug Heffernan's 4.8 seconds in the 29-yard dash in an episode of "King of Queens."

Clowney is hoping to be king of the NFL Draft in May, but buyer beware.

There aren't too many NFL prospects who live up to the hype. Just see any Penn State running back from Blair Thomas on. Ki-Jana Carter and Curtis Enis were other Nittany Lion busts on the biggest stage and aren't the only ones.

Will Clowney be the next?

Clowney is a hybrid defensive lineman and expected to go No. 1 overall to the Houston Texans next month. Imagine Clowney and J.J. Watt lining up together for the next several years. Any team in the AFC South doesn't want to see it and it could happen. It all depends if first-year Texans head coach Bill O'Brien wants to spend his top pick on defense when he clearly needs a franchise quarterback (Blake Bortles?).

But how can you turn down a player of Clowney's magnitude? The guy is sickening in a positive way. When his dreadlocks are flowing in the wind, opponents are in trouble. Quarterbacks and any other ball carriers will "dread" playing against Clowney as long as he doesn't turn out to be the next Courtney Brown, Aaron Maybin, Steve Emtman, Vernon Gholston or Andre Wadsworth. They are just a few defensive busts in previous drafts.

Remember how dominant Brown was for Penn State? I shook his hand during a media day session back in 2000 and it felt like two hands on top of each other. The guy was huge. Brown spoke softly and carried a big stick, and ultimately injuries and ineffectiveness derailed his pro career.

Clowney is trying not to fall into that bust category. He had everyone pretty much drooling in his pro day at the University of South Carolina. Clowney, though, had some people question his work ethic. A red flag wasn't erected by Texans general manager Rick Smith.

"He certainly has the athleticism to do what would be asked of him," Smith said. "I'm satisfied about what I know about his work ethic. We hadn't seen a lot of movement in space. That was probably the biggest thing."

Clowney met with Smith and O'Brien for dinner and could work with defensive guru and Texans coordinator Romeo Crennel if he's taken with the first pick. He also could follow the footsteps of another Texans No. 1 pick Mario Williams, who went first in 2006 over Reggie Bush, Vernon Davis, Jay Cutler and others.

And how did that work out? Perfectly. Williams has the most sacks (53) and forced fumbles (11) in team lore. He then departed Houston for more money to play in obscurity with the Buffalo Bills, signing a $100 million deal.

If the hype is true for Clowney, he will one day see a lot of zeros before the decimal point in his salary.

Former NFL quarterback and current Fox Sports analyst Donovan McNabb sees the potential in Clowney.

"He's a rare breed ... his speed, his aggressiveness, his tenacity ... when he wants to turn it on, he can be the most dominant player in the league," McNabb said. "What do you want him to do? Knock down walls and carry kids to school to show he's even stronger? That work ethic deal is garbage to me. It's just a smokescreen."

The Texans could trade out of the pick, then have to deal with the wrath of Clowney, who believes he's the best player available and said he will make them "miserable" if they opt for someone else.

"If we decide to draft this guy, we're not just going to play him at one position," O'Brien told the Texans' website. "We may start him off at one position but use him in a lot of different ways. He's a unique talent, but again, that's if we draft him."

The Cleveland Browns were snakebitten when they took a chance on Brown. That was 14 years ago and Clowney was growing into his chiseled body then. He is now a beast and looking to run rampant with the Texans.

Clowney has the tools and athleticism to make Houston a proud franchise once again after last year's 2-14 debacle. He won't score points unless he intercepts a pass or returns a fumble, but could be an effective piece and a complement to Watt across the front line.

We'll find out if the Texans feel the same way on May 8.

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