Warren Sapp's Comments Will Not Impact Jadeveon Clowney's Draft Stock

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2014

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney competes in a drill for NFL representatives at South Carolina football pro day in Columbia, S.C., Wednesday, April 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)
Mary Ann Chastain

Warren Sapp is late to the party when it comes to criticizing Jadeveon Clowney’s work ethic leading up to the draft, but that doesn’t mean his words won’t resonate across football circles.

They just won’t change anyone’s mind about the South Carolina product’s NFL prospects.

Sapp made the following comments on the NFL Network Monday night, via Curtis Crabtree of Pro Football Talk:

My grandfather taught me something a long time ago. He said ‘You will never get more money by doing less work.’ I look at Jadeveon Clowney’s (game) 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.

That’s the real issue with me: What else is he doing not waking up? 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 ready, prepared to go out and do the things you have to be to be a [defensive] end, outside linebacker – a pass rushing specialist – what else is there?

Sapp isn’t the first to criticize Clowney in this department and likely won’t be the last. Even Steve Spurrier, who was Clowney’s college coach at South Carolina, said that the defensive end’s work ethic was only average, despite all that raw talent.

Clowney only notched a sack in three different games in his final collegiate season, but some of that is due to the multiple offensive linemen that were tasked with blocking him on every snap. Still, it’s only natural to expect a bit more production from someone with Clowney’s abilities.

Phelan M. Ebenhack

After that Outback Bowl tackle that he made against Michigan was replayed approximately 10.5 million times on ESPN, Clowney received so much attention for his athleticism and talent that he likely coasted at times during his final season to avoid injury. It was virtually predetermined that he would be a top-10 pick in the draft, regardless of how he played on the field.

This realization, and the criticism for it, has not hurt his draft stock yet, and it won’t now just because Sapp brought it up.

Clowney is projected as the No. 1 pick in the most recent mock drafts from CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler, Pat Kirwan, Will Brinson and Rob Rang, among others. Sports Illustrated’s Don Burks also has the defensive end going No. 1 and said the following about the Houston Texans’ first pick:

The Texans still have two-plus weeks to really fall in love with one of the top-rated quarterbacks, but if it hasn't happened yet -- and we don't believe it has -- why force the issue? It seems much easier to swoon over Clowney's difference-making pass-rush potential and then figure out the quarterback pick at a later point. It could mean Houston trades back into the lower third of the first round, or sits and waits for its guy at No. 33 to start things off with a bang on Friday night. You know the names: Garoppolo, Savage, Murray, etc. ...

The Houston Texans really don’t care what Sapp has to say about Clowney’s work ethic.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 24: Former South Carolina defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney looks on while sitting out position drills during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

They will use that first overall pick to take the former South Carolina defender. Although there is no such thing as a safe bet in the NFL draft, he is as close as it comes in this class. He is a freak athlete who has the explosiveness and speed to get around the edge as a pass-rusher and the power to stuff the rushing attack. 

He and J.J. Watt will be nearly unblockable.


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