Muench's Trenches: One player vs. one line
October, 25, 2013
By Steve Muench | ESPN.com
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney recorded five tackles, including 2.5 for loss, and was credited with two quarterback hurries in the Gamecocks' 23-21 loss to Tennessee on Oct. 19. The fact that he made a fringe first-round pick in LT Antonio Richardson look bad at times in the process makes the performance that much more notable.
The difference in quickness between the two showed up early and often. Richardson struggled to redirect and counter when Clowney shot inside regardless of the play call. He had a tough time getting his hands on Clowney on running plays in particular. Offensive linemen get into trouble when they are overaggressive at the cost of sound footwork and Richardson got caught lunging too much. Clowney used his quick feet and hands to slip the block when Richardson got caught off balance. Clowney also did a nice job of keeping outside leverage and setting the edge when Richardson tried to seal him inside on perimeter runs.
This tape gives teams reason to hesitate drafting Richardson with the intention of having him protect their quarterback's blind side. But there's a reason Clowney is the top overall prospect on our board and it wasn't all bad for Richardson, who got set quickly and made it tough for Clowney to turn the corner in pass protection. He flashed above-average upper-body strength and sustained when he was able to lock onto Clowney's frame. While Clowney got the better of him this time around, Richardson still has the size, strength and toughness to push for early playing time at the next level. He's just a better fit on the right side than the left unless he plays for a team that starts a left-hander at quarterback.