COLUMBIA, S.C. – Jadeveon Clowney believes he should be the first player selected in next month's NFL Draft.
On Wednesday, he may have proved his point.
Clowney, a defensive end from the University of South Carolina, did what many draft analysts long expected he would do on Wednesday, turning in an impressive effort at the South Carolina Gamecocks' 2014 Pro Timing Day on a sun-splashed day at Williams-Brice Stadium.
"I feel like I did pretty good today," Clowney said shortly after his workout Wednesday.
Clowney (6-feet-5, 266 pounds), long projected by many as a virtual certain Top 3 selection in the May 8-10 2014 NFL Draft, opted against running the 40-yard dash on Wednesday, instead standing on the 4.53-second effort he turned in at the NFL Scouting Combine in late February.
Instead, Clowney's day Wednesday focused on positional drills, and those present said he excelled. Clowney had opted against participating in the positional drills at the combine. He also did not bench press Wednesday.
"He was very competitive," Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said after the workout. "I love the drills that were set up. You got a chance to see his explosiveness, his change of direction, his lean.
"This is another piece of the puzzle. You have the tape. You have the combine. Now, to come here and see this and the skillset and how he competed in this environment when all eyes are watching is great."
Clowney was asked Wednesday if he should be the No. 1 overall selection of the Houston Texans in May.
"Yes," he said, smiling. "If you ask a guy that and he says no, I don't know what he's doing out here. I do feel like I should be the first pick."
Clowney worked on Wednesday in front of officials from most of the 32 NFL teams, a group that included Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie and St. Louis Rams General Manager Les Snead as well as Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien and Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.
O'Brien called the Texans' thoughts on the No. 1 selection "wide open."
"They moved the draft back two weeks, so we have plenty of time," O'Brien said, adding of Clowney, "He's obviously a very productive player who had a very good college career. He's a fun guy to watch on film. I wouldn't say there was anything (in the last two days) that changed my mind as far as what type of player he is."
The Jaguars also attended the workout en masse, with decision-makers such as Bradley, General Manager David Caldwell, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, defensive line coach Todd Wash and Senior Vice President Football Technology and Analytics Tony Khan attending.
Crennel and Wash were among the coaches working with Clowney in positional drills.
Clowney said he has individual workouts and meetings set up with Atlanta and St. Louis, teams that hold the No. 6 and No. 2 selections, respectively. Bradley said the Jaguars – who hold the No. 3 selection – met with Clowney and could meet with him again before the draft.
"For us, why the Pro Day is so important is we get a chance to talk to his coaches, his coordinator, his position coach, his head coach … and then the secretaries, the janitors – anybody who may have touched him," Bradley said. "That's what you're looking for. Everything was real positive."
Clowney said he continues to hear questions from teams about his work ethic, questions that began arising this past season and during this offseason. He registered three sacks this past season after registering eight as a freshman and 13 as a sophomore.
Clowney said he heard the question Tuesday at dinner with the Texans, who hold the No. 1 overall selection.
"They asked the same questions everybody's asking, about work ethic," he said. "I told them the same thing – that I think I work just as hard as everybody. I'll just keep on pushing until the draft."
Clowney was asked if he was tired of answering the "work ethic" question. He smiled.
"I've been tired of it," he said. "I've been tired of answering a lot of questions, but it's something you have to do."
Bradley said he liked what he heard about those issues during the Jaguars' visit.
"I think he's looking forward to the opportunity to take his skillset to another level," Bradley said. "I really sense that from him. I think he's excited to learn from some veteran players and get into an organization that will help him get better and in turn he can help get better."
Those questions can only be answered in time, and with Clowney projected by most to be selected no later than No. 3 overall, he will get ample opportunity to answer them. He said Wednesday he not only is aware of those questions, but knows there will be more work to be done wherever he is drafted.
The NFL is a different game than college for a defensive end, with speed and size no longer providing as big an advantage for a pass rusher. Technique becomes more critical as the player plays against bigger, more athletic offensive linemen.
Clowney said Monday he is aware of and prepared for the challenge.
"It's really learning the game," Clowney said. "That's going to be my next, biggest hard step. I think I've got all the tools talent-wise and athletically, but just learning the game … There are a lot of smart guys with the same talent as you. They've been around a while. They know everything about the game, so I've got to learn the game and catch up in the playbook."
And while Wednesday couldn't answer all off-field questions surrounding Clowney, what he did on the field caused the impression he hoped.
"I wanted to show I could move laterally," Clowney said. "And my cardio – I wanted to show them I've been working out and staying in shape. I was really trying to prove that out here today – and my work ethic … people always keep questioning my work ethic. I was really trying to prove that today.
"I think I have a lot of proving left to do, but it's on to the next level: Keep on building."
This article is presented by Turner Pest Control.