Mel Kiper: 'A lot of teams' have Jadeveon Clowney as No. 1 pick

jkendall@thestate.comFebruary 6, 2014 

USC defensive end Jadeveon Clowney addresses the crowd at Colonial Life Arena during halftime of Saturday afternoon's basketball game against Ole Miss.

C MICHAEL BERGEN — mbergen@thestate.com

Jadeveon Clowney still wants to be the No. 1 overall pick in May’s NFL Draft. ESPN’s Mel Kiper says Clowney may not get his wish.

“He would have been the No. 1 pick had he had a great year, which he did not have for a variety of reasons,” Kiper said Thursday.

Clowney, a defensive end from Rock Hill who was named a first-team All-American in his final two seasons at South Carolina, had 13 sacks as a sophomore and three sacks as a junior before forfeiting his final year of eligibility to enter this year’s draft.

If his stock has dropped, it hasn’t dropped much, said Kiper, who projected Clowney would be picked No. 1 overall by Houston or No. 3 overall by Jacksonville.

“They are both teams in the AFC South and both need to get heat on (Indianapolis quarterback) Andrew Luck,” Kiper said. “A lot of teams still have him No. 1.”

Clowney still believes he is worthy of the top overall selection, he said Thursday during a radio interview on the Dan Patrick Show.

“I just have to keep working hard and be ready at the combine to show everybody what I have got,” he said.

He also reiterated that he has no regrets about playing during his junior season despite what it may have done to his draft status.

“No, I do not,” he said. “We finished No. 4 in the country so it was a good season. You never think about injury. You just go play and try to help your team.”

Clowney has no plans to have surgery on the bone spurs that slowed him at times during his final season with the Gamecocks.

“If the team that gets me in the draft wants me to get it, I’ll get it. If not, I won’t,” he said, adding he might get the surgery next offseason.

Clowney, who still plans to participate in all drills at the combine, was asked about his relationship with South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier and said it was good.

“I had no problems with Coach Spurrier,” he said. “It was a good three years for me. He’s a very funny guy.”

Clowney joined the show during a break from a workout at the Pensacola, Fla., training facility where he is preparing for the combine, which will be held in Indianapolis, Ind., later this month. He is hopeful he can do 25 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press and run a 4.4 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, he said. He has done 23 bench press repetitions during training, he said.

Clowney won’t be the only South Carolina player taken in the draft and may not even be the only one taken in the first round, Kiper said. Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, another early entry, is beginning to be discussed as a possible late first round pick, Kiper said.

“He’s a guy gaining a lot of momentum as we move into late February,” Kiper said.

Wide receiver Bruce Ellington and cornerback Victor Hampton could go as high as the third round and quarterback Connor Shaw will be either a late round pick or an undrafted free agent, Kiper said.

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