Just a day after former Auburn defensive end Dee Ford said he’s better than Jadeveon Clowney, Clowney responded to Ford’s comments, but did so after putting on an impressive display at the NFL Combine Monday.
The 6-foot-6, 266-pound Clowney ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, the fastest run by any defensive lineman at the combine this year, but questions have still emerged about Clowney’s work ethic on and off the field.
Ford said that Clowney “plays like a blind dog in a meat market,” while talking about his own precision in technique and film watching. Clowney responded by questioning why Ford sat out during the on-field drills.
“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 told NFL Network. “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.”
Both Mike Mayock and Warren Sapp of the NFL Network also questioned Clowney’s work ethic.
“It’s frightening to see a man that big and that fast coming down this field. He is a 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, an NFL Hall of Famer, said.
Sapp, echoing Ford’s sentiment, also raised concerns about Clowney’s technique based on the film he had watched.
“The film is a shame. 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,” Sapp said. “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’s combine performance was special. In addition to his blistering 40 time, his broad jump was 124 inches, the best of all defensive linemen, and his vertical jump was 37.5 inches, second best for defensive linemen. With that said, combine numbers don’t always translate to success at the next level.
When asked to clarify his comments, Ford said his statements stemmed from Auburn defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, but Ford maintained that he is better than Clowney.
“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 said.
“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.”
The draft is still over two months away and both players will get to showcase their skills again at their respective school's pro day. Things can change between now and then, but both players are projected to be chosen among the top defensive ends in the draft, with Clowney being among the first players selected.
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