NFL Draft 2014 VIDEO: First Look Event Update
"I think it should be me," Clowney said. "I can be a game changer. I can help any team out."
As Clowney saw his stats plummet in 2013 after recording a school-record 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss in 2012, many people questioned whether he cared about football and how much effort he gave on the field. Those criticisms only intensified after he missed a handful of games and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier made headlines by mentioning a “miscommunication” about the injury that caused Clowney to miss time.
Knowing that those doubts could affect his draft status, Clowney took the time to address his critics; it’s probably a good thing that he did.
"When they say that, I take that as spit in the face, really," Clowney said. "I wouldn't question that about me personally. I love the game and don't think I take plays off. And I wouldn't question how much I love it because I wouldn't be playing this game if I didn't love it.”
Although it’s certainly possible that Houston will take Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater instead of Clowney, there are numerous reports that the Jacksonville Jaguars will take him at No. 3 if he is still on the board.
If ESPN’s Merril Hoge was making the selection, he’d pass.
Last week Hoge said that he’d rather have openly gay Missouri defensive end Michael Sam instead of Clowney.
“His athletic skills are crazy, but as a football player, they’re very average,” Hoge said of Clowney. “Then you look at Michael Sam, his athletic skill sets are not eye-popping or awesome, but his football skill set is good. It’s sound...Now, is he going to dominate people like Clowney could, but we hardly see on a consistent basis? That’s what you’d have to decide."
For what it’s worth, Hoge thinks that Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack should be the top pick.
While that seems unlikely, the Texans are still mulling their options and Clowney is certainly still one of them despite Manziel’s comment that if Houston passes on him at No. 1, it will be the worst mistake the franchise has ever made.
Houston coach Bill O'Brien is curious to see how Clowney performs at his pro day and is also looking forward to meeting with him again after they spoke at the NFL combine.
"With a guy like Clowney, I don't think you base a large percentage of your decision on what he benched," O'Brien said. "A large percent is based on what type of guy he is. We [interviewed] him at the combine for 15 minutes, and now, we'll go to South Carolina to his pro day and get to know him a little bit better. You base it on that, but it's also on what you see on the tape."
If Clowney can show up at his pro day as successfully as he does in the following photo-bomb of Houston Rockets’ Terrence Jones following the team’s 100-89 win over the Charlott Bobcats on Monday, the Texans might end up taking him after all.
(Clowney pops in the shot and makes a funny face at the camera around the 1:00 mark.)
Evan Bleier is a freelance writer based out of wherever he can plug in his laptop. You can send him questions, comments and Buffalo wing suggestions @itishowitis or "like" CraveOnline Sports on Facebook
Photo Credit: Getty