Fairly ranking Matthew Stafford and a decade of No. 1 picks
Number 6 – Jadeveon Clowney, DE
Jadeveon Clowney had the word “freak” used of him more than possibly any other athlete I’ve ever heard of. For the shear hype to results ratio, he lands at number 6 on this list. The former South Carolina product was propelled to stardom after a huge hit made on a Michigan running back in the Outback Bowl and the subsequent displays of athletic feats that followed.
His junior season at USC was underwhelming but he still did well enough to keep the attention. A cloud of suspicion followed him, murmurings that perhaps he was not ready to be a pro. Like many near the bottom of this list, he tested off of the charts at the Combine and his pro day. The Houston Texans ignored his junior lull and decided to select him, anyway.
Clowney has 20.0 sacks in his 4-year NFL career. Despite his mediocre production, he has earned two Pro Bowl appearances playing opposite fellow Pro Bowler, J.J. Watt. Call me skeptical, but with Watt on the other side, why does this guy fail to reach double-digit sacks? In his two nearly completely healthy years (30 of 32 games), he has 15.5 sacks.
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Number 5 – Jameis Winston, QB
Let’s revisit the Jameis Winston discussion briefly. I would rank him at number five for a combination of reasons. One, he has not missed much time, only three games in 48. Two, he still has less actual production, even on a per healthy year basis than his better peers. Winston has been productive, and narrowly missed the 4,000-yard mark for third time in his young career. His 69 touchdowns, 44 interceptions, and improving completion percentage are all positive indicators.
His rookie Pro Bowl nod, not withstanding, his career so far is unremarkable. The Buccaneers look to have gotten a good quarterback, who has consecutive 4,000-yard passing seasons to start his career. The 2015 rookie has done what has been asked of him, and cannot be considered a miss, even with his immature antics from time to time.
Too soon to tell if Jameis is the kind of special player that can eventually climb to the top of a list like this down the road. Winston has a strong arm, and has produced well, but we’ll have to see bigger, better things to place him higher. If he elevates his game, we might talk about him being elite.