INDIANAPOLIS -- His sack total nose-dived from 13 two years ago to just three last year.
His college coach has openly questioned his work ethic.
He has bone spurs in his right foot that probably are going to require surgery after the draft and will keep him out of offseason training activities.
Nevertheless, Jadeveon Clowney believes the Houston Texans, or whatever team ends up with the first pick in the May draft, would have to be brain dead to take a quarterback over him.
“If you saw the Super Bowl, the (Seattle) defense won that game,’’ Clowney told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Shut them down. It takes a (great) defense to win a championship. Seattle proved that. Peyton Manning is a great quarterback. But defense wins games.’’
The 6-5, 266-pound defensive end from South Carolina is an athletic freak who hopes to run a 4.4 forty when he works out for scouts on Monday. But there are questions about his motor and concerns that a big NFL contract is going to turn him into a pussycat.
“I believe once I get to the NFL it’s going to be the up of my career,’’ Clowney said. “I just want to be the best. I want to be one of the greatest of all time.
The NFL is the next level. Coming out of high school, I said I wanted to be one of the best in college. I think proved that.
Going to the NFL, I want to be one of the best in the NFL. I want to go down in history as one of the best. I got another stepping stone to get out of the way. I’m going to take care of my business and hopefully accomplish that in the NFL.’’
Clowney said he probably would have come out last year after his 13-sack season as a sophomore he had been allowed. But NFL rules don’t allow a player to enter the draft until three years after he graduates from high school.
“I was coming off a great season,’’ he said. “If there had been a chance, I probably would have (come out). But that’s over with. I had to stay a third year. I did. I took care of business and helped our team win.’’
Clowney said his dramatic drop in sacks last season had nothing to do with his level of play and everything to do with what opposing offenses did to thwart him.
“Teams made a lot of changes when we played them,’’ he said. “Quick passes. Two on ones. Running (away from me) to the opposite sideline.
“A lot of teams played me different, played our team different. We’d watch film and they were taking 3-4 seconds to throw the ball. You watch them against us they were taking like two seconds.
“But that happens. I wasn’t really worried about my stats. I just wanted to win.’’
Some other highlights from Clowney’s 12-minute media session:
--On his reaction to South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier questioning his work ethic: “That’s his opinion. I believe I did play hard. If you pull out any practice tape from last year you’ll see that. I’m always going to work hard, no matter where I end up. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.’’
--On his level of disappointment over his sack numbers last season: “Going into last season, I had a lot of high expectations of myself. But things don’t always happen like you plan on. I tried to break the sack record for the next guy coming in. Lot of ups and downs. But we won 11 games. We finished No. 4 in the country. I was pretty excited about that. I wasn’t worried about my stats really.’’
--On wanting to be the first overall selection in the draft: “That’s one of my goals. I came out of high school as the No. 1 player. So I wanted to come into the league as the No. 1 guy.’’
--On his ability to be a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL: “It don’t matter to me. Standing up or hand down. My hand was always down at South Carolina. But I believe I can play standing up as well.’’
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