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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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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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flip33732 February 25 2014 at 6:18 AM

Being in great physical shape is one thing......................willing to play hard all the time by the end of a 16 game schedule remains to be seen. You can not question his skills,but you can question his heart. Words mean nothing,action says it all and so far Clowney has demonstrated a lack of total commitment. We'll see what happens when he plays on Sundays against the best talent every week.

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cuzdeaton February 25 2014 at 6:16 AM

All I hear is me me me ! I`m not hearing the love for the game . hmm whats his GPA. That will tell u how hard he is willing to work at being the best . he mite make a good tight end 2nd or 3rd round. no heart just I I i thats all I hear!

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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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ricklexus February 25 2014 at 2:23 AM

Has the God given body, but a saw him play a few times last year and he definitely has a sputtering engine. He plays hard maybe 20% of the time, certainly not nearly the ferrous internal drive that so many greats have. His strength is subject too. He'll need to hit the weights to become dominant.

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Charles February 25 2014 at 1:08 AM

All I hear is, I want, I want, well you can want till the cows come home, when he gets his NFL baptism he will come down off that high horse he is riding now.

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sullalc February 24 2014 at 11:11 PM

Well...I watched with great interest... as a former offensive lineman...his first game of the '13 season and watched him get trapped..influenced and double teamed....He eventually took himself out of the game...ESPN (the HYPE network) introduced him before that game as a probable Heisman candidate...and first pick of the draft.....Now...the media has gone off again because of a 40 time....He begged off of the agility workouts at the combine.....mostly because he does not have really quick feet....and he was a bust in upper body strength tests....3 sacks in his senior season....always beware of college players who dominate easily because of great athletic ability or skills....when they get to the NFL...they often dont have the work ethic to make themselves great at that level....every Sunday in the NFL he will meet his worst nighmare..NFL left tackles....average height....6 foot 6....average weight 330....and....a great deal stronger than Clowney is now....Hes got the god given physical gifts.....in the NFL what will matter is what is between his ears.

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1 reply
Brian Hope sullalc February 24 2014 at 11:40 PM

To put it simply, if he can't outrun the typical NFL linemen, he sure won't be able to use his upper body to work through them. I will be very disappointed if the Texans go for him.

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rufus February 24 2014 at 10:49 PM

do his contract around incentives and see if he will accept it.

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cuer10va February 24 2014 at 10:12 PM

typical flash in the pan whiner

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jaywpb February 24 2014 at 10:01 PM

He complains about the high expectations for his team going into the season. And on the other side of his mouth he thoinks he shpould be taken as #1 draft. I suspect he #1 draft pick will come with some sort of high expectations.

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