Merril Hoge Thinks Jadeveon Clowney Is A Terrible Football Player

7As is the case most years with the NFL Draft, speculation and predictions about players projected to go early varies wildly from team to team and analyst to analyst. Much of what is said in the months leading up to the draft is nothing but the same recycled talking points rehashed over and over.

And usually by the same people too. All the usual suspects, like ESPN’s “experts,” Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. Every other network and sports site out there has their own versions of Kiper and McShay too, constantly hammering out new mock drafts and saying things we’ll only remember if they’re wrong.

That being said, there’s always one person you can count on to say whatever he wants, about whomever he wants, wherever and whenever he wants to say it: Merril Hoge—he of the massively oversized tie knot and massively under-thought reasoning.

Unconvinced by common knowledge and undeterred by past mistakes, Hoge takes aim at at least one high profile draft prospect most years and bashes him indiscriminately until he stops getting the outraged reaction he wants out of people.

This year the recipients of the “Merril Hoge thinks you suck” award are former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who apparently has “bust written all over him,” and former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Manziel was his early target, but because opinions on his pro prospects are mixed and he’s a lightning rod for controversy anyway, the outrage over his comments dissipated quickly. You have to hit Johnny Football with a lot more than that if you want it to stick.

Which is why Hoge has refocused his efforts solely on Clowney, a definitive Top 5 pick who may very well go No. 1 overall.

Last month Hoge raised damn near every eyebrow on Earth by insisting he’d rather have Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, whose disappointing performance at the combine raised far more questions than it answered.

The assertion was laughable at best, at worst it was demonstrated incompetence and obvious bias. And now he’s dragging poor Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack into the gutter with him.

No one would argue that Mack isn’t one of the top defensive talents in the draft this year—the Houston Texans reportedly favor him over Clowney at the No. 1 spot—but only Hoge is arguing that Clowney isn’t.

On Monday he compared the two on SportsCenter and used a lot of inflammatory language in the process.

[Click here to see the video of the segment in its entirety]

With each breath he used to lavish praise on Mack and his abilities, Hoge used the next to tear down Clowney in an equally excessive fashion. Though he attempted to offset the criticism he heaped on the Gamecocks star with the occasional backhanded compliment, it did nothing to diminish the weight of his words.

Hoge called Clowney’s fundamentals “atrocious,” adding that “as a football player he’s not very good.” He condescendingly noted the difference between an amazing athlete, which he concedes Clowney is, and an amazing football player, which he contends Clowney isn’t.

Hoge then went on to briefly analyze a few facets of Clowney’s play, comparing them directly to that of Mack and finding him deficient on every level. According to Hoge, Clowney is “light-years” behind Mack and will require a “massive” learning curve to play in the NFL.

Considering Hoge was the guy who thought the Green Bay Packers would be crazy to draft Aaron Rodgers over Brian Brohm (uh…who?) in 2008, something tells me Clowney isn’t going to be losing any sleep tonight.

To be fair, Todd McShay was all about Mr. Brohm that year too.

[Click here to watch Hoge and McShay attempt to out-stupid each other]

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