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Jadeveon Clowney wows with his 40-yard dash

Remarkable Time For Clowney

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Jadeveon Clowney wants NFL scouts to rethink their draft strategy.

Instead of settling for one of those glitzy, franchise quarterbacks, he's urging teams to build a fast, physical defense that can stop all those high-powered offenses, and he has the perfect suggestion about where to start. Himself.

"That's one of my goals here, to go No. 1," this year's top-rated defensive end said softly Saturday at the NFL's scouting combine. "I came out of high school as the No. 1 player so I want to come out of here as the No. 1 guy."

Nobody doubts the former South Carolina star has the physical tools to go No. 1 in May. He measured in Saturday at 6-foot-5 1/4, 266 pounds, with an 83-inch wingspan and hopes to finish the 40-yard dash in the 4.4s, maybe the low 4.5s if he's a little off.

With numbers like that, it's no wonder Clowney is projected to go in the top five in May. But going ahead of quarterbacks such as Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater will take a lot more than athleticism.

The biggest questions Clowney will answer this week focus on his work ethic and desire, and it sure didn't help when he missed Friday night's first round of team interviews because of travel problems. He said he drove from Columbia, S.C., to Charlotte, N.C., to avoid one 2-hour delay only to run into another 2 1/2-hour delay.

While coaches and team executives may excuse Clowney's tardy arrival, they still need to find out whether they'll be drafting the guy who delivered that helmet-dislodging, highlight-making hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith in the 2013 Outback Bowl or the guy critics believe was more concerned with protecting his draft stock than winning games in 2013.

Clowney insisted he was the same guy, though he did admit he would have left school after his sophomore season - if NFL rules would have allowed it.

"I believe I did work hard. You pull out any practice tape from last year, you'll see that," Clowney said. "I'll tell everybody that. I will always be working hard. No matter where I end up I am going to work hard and give a team everything I've got."

The numbers and words seem to tell a different tale.

He finished 2012 with 54 tackles and 13 sacks. And despite the lofty expectations from college football fans after that eye-popping hit, Clowney finished 2013 with 40 tackles and only three sacks.

What happened is a matter of perception.

Some believe Clowney did not go all-out following a public debate about whether it was even worth it for him to play in 2013.

Try telling that to those who had to block Clowney.

"I don't think he took a play off," Missouri tackle Justin Britt said. "If he did, I didn't see it."

But inside the Gamecocks program, there were signs something was amiss.

In October, coach Steve Spurrier expressed frustration that the injured Clowney waited too long to tell coaches he couldn't play. Then, this week, on the eve of the combine, Spurrier told NFL Network that Clowney's work ethic was "OK," rekindling talk about Clowney's desire to excel at football. Not surprisingly, it was still a hot topic when Clowney took the podium at Lucas Oil Stadium with a huge crowd of reporters seeking answers to the same questions as team executives.

Clowney started the explanation by saying opponents relied on shorter, quicker passes to slow down South Carolina's pass rush and then defended his effort.

"There were a lot of ups and downs, but we won eleven games, were 11-2, won our bowl game, finished No. 4 in the country for the first time in South Carolina history so I was pretty excited about the season," Clowney said. "I wasn't really worried about my stats, I just wanted to win."

Instead, Clowney contends the bigger problem was the artificially high level of expectations going into the season.

But now Clowney must convince coaches, scouts and team executives the guy they watched in 2012 was the same guy they saw on film in 2013 and will continue to be the same guy they can build a defense around.

And to jump back up the draft board into position for the top spot, Clowney understands he has to convince teams he means what he says.

"I just want to be the best, one of the greatest of all time," he said. "Coming out of high school, I said I wanted to be one of the best in college and I think I proved that. Going to the NFL, I want to be one of the best in the NFL, go down in history as one of the best, so I have another stepping stone in my way and hopefully I can take care of business and accomplish that in the NFL."

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steel4cal February 25 2014 at 12:15 PM

But can he spell his own first name?

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coldh2oranch February 25 2014 at 10:49 AM

This man is the real thing...you can double team him and make the quarterback get rid of the ball in 3 seconds, only throw short outs and slants but he has done his job, he made you change your game and chance of willing...He might be a wide our or tight end if he has good hands...His 40 yard dash is incredible....

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ibuylow99 February 25 2014 at 10:23 AM

Heart is the difference between being a champion and just another talented kid on the roster.

Here is a perfect example, Albert Haynesworth was paid $25MM because he was the best defensive athletic tackle in the NFL (not College), he was a huge bust with the Redskins, but London Fletcher who was a seventh round undersized, above average athletism, linebacker becomes a pro-bowler.

Being a great athlete is different than being the greatest defensive player of all time in the NFL! You have to start with talent and athletism, which he certainly has, but he must have a work ethic greater than those he must compete with, and he must have the heart to play at his best before the season, during the season and when everything is going badly.

From what I have seen, his stats and not knowing the young man, it certainly looks as if he rested on his reputation in 2013. I understand that other teams did change their offensive strategies to protect their quarterbacks, but that occurs at every level and in the NFL the expectation is the player will overcome the obstacles and make plays or the next guy is up.

If I am in the GM position, I have to question whether I use a 1st round draft choice on a player with 3 sacks and 40 tackles. That being said, the NFL GM's don't make decisions only on stats and combine results. I am sure there is a lot of conversations going on with past coaches, opposing players, and him. If they get the right answers , he will go in the first round, ( not sure top 5) if they get bad answers he will most likely go between the late 2nd round thru early 4th.

He has enough talent to take a risk on.

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salleym137 February 25 2014 at 10:10 AM

Guy takes to many plays off, great speed very low 225 Reps for a guy that size. Great Athlete I would be worried that he does not do the work, hitting the iron to get the strength up takes work and commitment. The Tackles in the Pro ranks are far superior technically, and faster than the college players. He is not just running past guys in the NFL they will let him run himself right out of the play.
Run straight at him and he is neutralized a 300 pound plus tackle will tie him up at the point of attack. Probably will be very good 3rd down rush end

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Reggie February 25 2014 at 10:09 AM

What ever team this guy makes it on more power to him, he can't be no worse than that fat azz racist on the Miami Dolphins team.

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rb February 25 2014 at 9:32 AM

The only thing faster than Clowney's 40 yard dash time is the speed he drives his Chrysler 300 down the interstate.

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dynomykefla February 25 2014 at 9:29 AM

Whata stupid name, it still amazes me that parents think naming their kid some ridiculous made up variation of multiple names is somehow a good idea....

As far as the player, while he may have skills, I see someone who cares nothing about anything but himself... He might want to look up the definition of the word TEAM..

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2 replies to dynomykefla's comment
Reggie February 25 2014 at 9:41 AM

W.T.F. are you talking about, this subject isn't about this players name or what his parents named him as a baby, really. By the way, how fast can you run the 40 yard dash and which NFL team do you play for loser and hater.

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3 replies to Reggie's comment
lakers84 February 25 2014 at 10:15 AM

that guy is 6ft 5in....266 lbs......he can call himself whatever he wants!! :P ....lol

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partsautomall February 25 2014 at 8:26 AM

the game plays awfully easy from the stands.all these guys are warriors

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rhill65 February 25 2014 at 8:16 AM

While I could use a little less of his bravo, I do admire his resume, much like Mansiel. Mansiel talks alot of smack and I don't saee you clowns " pissing and moaning " about that; maybe this is just the difference bewtween black and white.
Also, with his speed at the edge, he will probably be able to run down every QB in the NFL except maybe RGIII. Yeah, I know the truth hurts !

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Craig February 25 2014 at 7:25 AM

I don't care what he runs, but where did his parents come up with that first name? Maybe Coo Coo Ca Chew, but not Jadeveon.

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