Stating his case: Clowney believes he should be top pick

Pro day, time with Texans key for former Gamecock star

jkendall@thestate.comApril 2, 2014 

Jadeveon Clowney’s five-month-long job interview continued Wednesday at Williams-Brice Stadium as he worked out in front of representatives from 30 of the NFL’s 32 teams.

The more important event for Clowney, though, may have been the Tuesday night dinner he had with executives from the Houston Texans, who sent more than a half-dozen employees to see if Clowney is worthy of the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

“We were able to spend some time with him last night. He’s a good guy,” Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said Wednesday. “He’s a fun guy to talk to. He’s a team guy. It was good to be out here today and last night. It was a good chance to get to know him better.”

The Texans were equally impressed with Clowney’s on-field work. The former South Carolina All-American did not run the 40-yard dash or bench press but went through position drills at defensive line and linebacker under the watchful eye of dozens of NFL evaluators and hundreds of Gamecocks fans.

“When you evaluate the game tape, you didn’t see a lot of movement in space so if we project him at outside linebacker, we were able to see him do some of those things,” Texans general manager Rick Smith said. “That was productive for us. He could absolutely play outside linebacker for us.”

That’s what Clowney wanted to prove -- and that questions about his work ethic are unfounded. Those questions came up, he said, at his Tuesday night dinner with the team.

“I think dinner went pretty good,” he said. “They asked me the same questions everybody has been asking me about my work ethic. I told them the same thing: I think I work just as hard as anybody, and if you put me with a group of guys I am going to try to outwork them.”

Clowney believes he put some of those questions to rest Wednesday with an energetic performance on a day the temperature reached nearly 90 degrees.

“I still have a lot of proving to do, but today was another step to show them what I’ve got, show them that my cardio is good and I can move,” he said. “People keep questioning my work ethic and my work ethic is pretty good. I was out here trying to prove that today.”

Clowney was in high spirits after his workout, greeting agent Bus Cook with, “Bus baby! How’d I do?” Cook replied affirmatively, as did most who saw Clowney.

“I thought he had a good day, and he was able to do a bunch of different drills, which was good to see,” O’Brien said. “Obviously, he’s a very productive player, had a really good college career, fun guy to watch on film. I wouldn’t say there is anything that changed my mind as far as what type of guy he is.”

O’Brien was one of two head coaches in attendance. He was joined by Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley. The Jaguars have the No. 3 overall pick. One-hundred and twenty-five media members were credentialed for Wednesday’s event, and ESPN, FoxSports 1 and the NFL Network broadcast from booths set up on the Williams-Brice turf.

The Texans have now attended workouts for Clowney, Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the presumptive options for the No. 1 pick, and the thought process about the pick is still “wide open,” O’Brien said.

Clowney believes he should be the top selection.

“What you think? If you ask a guy that and they say, ‘No,’ I don’t know what they are doing up here,” he said. “I do feel like I should be the first pick.”

He expressed that to the Texans at dinner Tuesday.

O’Brien “is already talking about his locker room how they have a good group of guys up there,” Clowney said. “He said he doesn’t want a bad vibe in the locker room. I am like, ‘I am not that guy.’ I like to have fun and smile and crack jokes a lot, but when it’s time to play, I am on top of that also. I just want to show them what type of guy I am. I don’t have any bad history or background, so I wasn’t worried about that part. Whatever they want to know I am here to give answers.”

The first round of the draft will be held May 8 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, and Clowney will be in attendance. Between now and then, he will hold individual workouts with the St. Louis Rams and Atlanta Falcons and may visit with the Texans again in Houston and travel to Connecticut to work with sponsor Puma.

“We have plenty of time,” O’Brien said.

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