INDIANAPOLIS — A day after South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney raised eyebrows by disappointing in the bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine, his performance in the 40-yard dash caused jaws to hit the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The 6-foot-5, 266-pound Clowney posted an official time of 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash Monday, establishing himself as the fastest defensive lineman at this year’s combine. Only one other defensive lineman had a time better than 4.6 — Bloomsburg defensive end Larry Webster, 6-5 and 252 pounds, placed second at his position with a 4.58.
Clowney’s blazing time in the 40, though, didn’t eliminate questions about his work ethic. On Sunday, Clowney bench pressed 225 pounds 21 times, below average for his position. Then he passed on participating in on-field position drills Monday after finishing second in the vertical jump (37 1/2 inches) and second in the broad jump (10 feet, 4 inches) among defensive linemen. He later told NFL Network’s Willie McGinest that he was dealing with a tight hip flexor.
Does Clowney think scouts and evaluators will view his choice to sit out position drills as a negative?
“I doubt it,” Clowney told NFL Network. “Some of the guys were like, ‘That’s all right. Just get ready for pro day. We expect you to do all the drills at pro day.’ Which I don’t have a problem with. I’ll be ready for my pro day (April 2).”
NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock believes Clowney could still become the first overall pick if he can convince the Houston Texans he’s driven and motivated.
“The NFL is a pass-first league, and any defensive lineman who can disrupt that quarterback quickly that has the ability that this kid has is a potential first pick in the draft,” Mayock said. “We’ve said it all along. It’s just a matter of buying into the rest of it.”
Michael Sam, who is trying to become the first openly gay player in the NFL, posted an unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.79 seconds and did 17 reps, according to NFL.com. NFL Network reported the time was 4.91.