Jadeveon Clowney's big day at Combine still draws critics

jkendall@thestate.comFebruary 24, 2014 

NFL Combine Football

South Carolina defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.

NAM Y. HUH — AP

Jadeveon Clowney showed again Monday why he’s considered a once-in-a-generation talent and a contender for the top overall spot in May’s NFL Draft, but he still couldn’t silence the questions that could cost him that No. 1 selection.

Clowney, 6-foot-6, 266 pounds, completed his on-field workouts at the NFL Combine on Monday and set social media sites abuzz early in the day with a 4.53 40-yard dash, the fastest by a defensive lineman at this year’s combine and a faster time than the average wide receiver ran at the event this year.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock called it a more impressive run than the combine record of 4.24 set by running back Chris Johnson in 2008 because Clowney weighs 75 pounds more than Johnson.

“He’s a freak,” Mayock said.

Still, Mayock continued to raise questions about Clowney’s work ethic, and on Monday they were echoed, and strongly, by former NFL defensive lineman and Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, who also is an NFL Network analyst.

“It’s frightening to see a man that big and that fast coming down this field,” Sapp said. “He is freak. The thing that I want to see him do is put his feet in the ground and come with a hunger and a love for this game.”

Sapp went on to criticize Clowney’s technique and work ethic based on what he had seen on film.

“The film is a shame,” Sapp said. “I’m ashamed to look at it. I had to push pause, get up and walk around the room and calm myself down. I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ There’s no way this kid is allowing this tape to be sent around the country. When you turn his tape on, you don’t see that love for the game, that love of the hunt that you want to see from a defensive lineman, but the kids a freak and boy is he athletic.”

Clowney broad jumped 124 inches, the best among defensive linemen, and had a vertical jump of 37.5 inches, the second-best among defensive linemen.

Also Monday, the NFL Network asked former Auburn defensive end Dee Ford to clarify remarks in which he said he was a better player than Clowney, and that Clowney played with poor technique that made him look like “a blind dog in a meat market.”

Ford said the comment started with former Tigers defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, who told him he played that way.

“He told me that I had all the first-round ability in the world, but he said I rely on my athleticism, you know, rather than really (bringing) the technical aspects, the fundamental part of the game, watching film, to really become a great pass rusher,” Ford told the NFL Network. “So therefore I’m a blind dog in a meat market. So that’s one thing he used. When I see Jadeveon, that’s what I see. He’s 6-foot-6, 270, 4.4 guy. He just plays. He can make plays like that, but at the end of the day, does that make you a great pass rusher or a better pass rusher than me? No.”

Ford later sat out the on-field drills due to a health concern. Clowney also got a chance to respond during a sit down interview with the NFL Network.

“I told (Ford), ’I don’t see you out here. You ain’t doing none of these drills.’ For him to say something, I (didn’t) want to hear it,” Clowney said. “I just feel like he just said that to build his stock up or something. But it didn’t bother me. I told him, ’I’m still better than you.’ We’re just out here having fun, enjoying ourselves. He felt like he needed something to help himself out, to say something. But I was fine with it.”

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