The closer we get to the NFL Draft, the more analysis, speculation, contemplation, and outright bull we're going to hear. Your challenge as a fan is to figure out whether the stories you're hearing about your team's preferred players are rooted in truth or manure. (Spoiler: nobody knows anything.)
Jadeveon Clowney has the talents to be a potential No. 1 pick in the draft. (That's right where our Eric Edholm projects him.) He also has attributes that, viewed through a certain lens, concern former players such as Warren Sapp, who held court on NFL Total Access on Monday. The topic at hand: Clowney's work ethic, or perceived lack thereof.
“My grandfather taught me something a long time ago," Sapp said. "He said ‘You will never get more money by doing less work. I look at Jadeveon Clowney’s tape and I don’t see a guy that is playing the game with his hair on fire, making plays, running up and down the field sideline to sideline, doing all of the things.”
No disrespect to Sapp's grandfather, but here's another, more recent cliche: work smarter, not harder. Clowney does have plenty to prove, but running around like one's hair is on fire — which, with Clowney, would be a heck of a sight — doesn't guarantee anything other than that the player's going to be gassed by the fourth quarter. Knowing when to pick one's spots is a critical skill as well.
The focal point for Sapp's rage was Clowney's decision not to hold on-field workouts prior to the draft. "What else is he doing, not waking up?" Sapp said. "The next job you have is rushing the quarterback, young man, getting ready for the NFL. If you wake up every morning and you're not prepared to go out and do the things you have to be either be an outside linebacker or pass rushing specialist, what else is there? You can blow your knee out walking your doggy. So why would you not work out for a team that has twenty million-plus dollars for you?"
Well, for one reason, that twenty-million-plus dollars would vanish faster than an opposing QB's heartbeat if Clowney were to injure himself the way Clemson's Brandon Thomas did during his team workout. Clowney's done more than enough, on tape, in games, to satisfy any reasonable draft analyst; when you're already projected as a potential No. 1 pick, there's only one direction that more information can send you.
Sapp is falling into the traditional media trap of growing frustrated with players who don't make things easier on the media. This isn't about "looking out" for Clowney, this is about Sapp using his platform to tee off on Clowney. Sapp, of course, knows a thing or two about media reports harming one's draft stock, but then things always look a little different from the other side of the fence.