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The Texans player who should scare the Vikings: Jadeveon Clowney

By Matthew Coller

When the Houston Texans selected Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick, there were questions about whether he could become a dominant pass rusher in the NFL because he only had three sacks during his senior season. Three years into his career (one lost to injury), Clowney only has 6.5 career sacks, but the 23 year old should still be the focus of the Vikings’ pass blocking scheme on Sunday.

At 6-foot-6, 270-pounds and with a 4.5 40-yard dash, there are only a handful of players that rival Clowney’s physical attributes.

If you want to know why he would scare opponents, take a look at his NFL.com draft profile:

“Athletic marvel with raw explosive power and rare speed for his size. Is physically tough and will battle through injuries. Can collapse the corner with ease and rag-dolls blockers. Highly disruptive — creates a lot of pressure and flushes production to his teammates. Can split the double team and closes in a hiccup. Plays with leverage and power in his hands — converts speed into power and bulls blockers into the backfield. Disrupts a quarterback’s vision with long arms and can bat down balls. Seldom leaves the field. Flashes playmaking ability and can produce athletic feats in a category with few others before him.”

While Pro Football Focus has not given Clowney a good rating so far, it is clear that Houston opponents have done their best to avoid any situations where he is 1-on-1. The former Gamecock sees two blockers on almost every snap. That leaves the Texans’ other talented pass rushers like Whitney Mercilus to only face one blocker.

On this play against the Tennessee Titans, the guard and center both take Clowney and the tackle is left on his own.

And here’s what happens when the guard gets left all by himself against Clowney. The young pass rusher throws him off like a drunk college kid trying to ride a mechanical bull.

Not only does the double team set up chances for his teammates on the defensive line to get to the quarterback, it also sets up openings for the Texans to blitz areas where they know Clowney will be the focus of the blocking scheme. Again, Clowney gets zero credit for this play via sack, hurry or hit numbers, but he and Vince Wilfork open up a clean rush at the quarterback.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer noted that the Texans line Clowney up all over the defensive line.

“They’re playing him a little more as a defensive end, so there is more ‘just go’ stuff,” Zimmer said.

He will rush from inside the tackles or from way outside in attempts to get him 1-on-1 with the tackle. The Chiefs were having none of that, though. As he bull-rushed the tackle back toward Alex Smith, the guard and running back both come to help.

His blazing speed and explosiveness off the edge should be worrisome for the Vikings, who want to use Jerick McKinnon in the passing game, but absolutely cannot allow Clowney to be matched up with TJ Clemmings because of plays like this:

The Texans have given up 4.6 Yards Per Carry (30th), which should be exciting to a Vikings team that just had their best rushing game of the year. But Clowney can blow up run plays on his own or stuff two linemen to close potential holes in a hurry.

Last season, Pro Football Focus ranked him as one of the NFL’s best run defending 3-4 linemen.

This Chiefs run blocking scheme designed to have a pulling linemen did not anticipate the burst of Clowney. He goes right by the pulling guard, throws the tight end aside and pulls down the ball carrier.

Without JJ Watt, Clowney becomes the main focus of the Vikings’ protection, but the Texans have a number of other very talented defenders. Mercilus had 12 sacks last year and Benardrick McKinney leads the team in tackles and has a pair of sacks this season.

The Vikings offensive line will have their hands full on Sunday.

The post The Texans player who should scare the Vikings: Jadeveon Clowney appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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