The NFL Scouting Combine begins Saturday and the two best college players in the land will not be there. Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and South Carolina defensive lineman Jadavean Clowney are not eligible to be drafted this year. Both men still have college eligibility left and won't be allowed to turn pro until next season.
Manziel literally came out of nowhere to win the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman in 2012. He helped lead Texas A&M to an 11-2 record in their first season in the tough Southeastern Conference. Along the way, Manziel led the Aggies to a road victory over eventual national champion Alabama. It was the Crimson Tide's only loss of the season and almost cost them a chance to defend their title. Manziel finished the season by leading Texas A&M to a Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma.
In a year where there is a dearth of draft eligible quarterbacks, Manziel probably would have been the top rated player at the position. His stock would have definitely gotten a boost from the 2012 performances of two rookie quarterbacks who play similar to him in Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III. Wilson led the Seattle Seahawks to the playoffs while Griffin III did the same for the Washington football team.
Clowney may be the best amateur football player in the country. He was the top recruit in the nation coming out of high school in 2011 and has proven why over the last two years. Clowney has the size and speed to play linebacker or defensive end. He is to offense what Manziel is to defense a player who can take over a game at any time. There have been very few men that could have gone straight from high school to the NFL and Clowney may be one of them.
However, Clowney and Manziel will not take the field for the pros next season. They will meet and compete in the SEC for another year.
They will not be at the combine, but one can bet that Manziel and Clowney are on every scout's radar.