Jadeveon Clowney confounded many of his critics, and wowed watching viewers, earlier today as he exploded to an unofficial 4.47 run in the 40 at the NFL Combine.
Even before today the former South Carolina defensive end had been talked about as a potential number one draft pick – possibly usurping the trio of quarterbacks who are currently favorites for the spot.
But while Clowney undoubtedly possesses some incredible physical attributes, some have raised questions about his mentality and true potential.
Non-more so than Auburn defensive end, and fellow member of the 2014 draft class, Dee Ford. Ford told the gathered media Sunday that he was better than Clowney:
“Let’s put it like this. People like to talk about size all the time. Size is pretty much overrated in my eyes.
“People are just looking at the fact that he’s a physical specimen.
“Honestly if you watch the film, he plays like a blind dog in a meat market.”
So does Ford have a point; is he the true stand out pass rusher heading for the NFL?
Unfortunately we can’t compare their respective Combine performances because Ford pulled out this morning due to medical reasons and so will not workout.
But in their final season in college football, Ford comes out on top.
The Auburn man racked up 29 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, and 10.5 sacks as he helped his team to the BCS Championship game.
Clowney on the other hand finished 2013 with 35 tackles, but only 10.5 for loss and just 3 sacks.
But if we go further back, Clowney had a phenomenal 2012 season - posting huge numbers that led to some suggesting he should elect for the 2013 draft.
As we know, he did not. And his decline in productivity last season is a cause for concern - especially when combined with doubts raised, by his own coach no-less, about his work rate and diligence in practice.
Ford meanwhile cemented his first round draft prospects with a standout performance in this year’s Senior Bowl also and certainly seems to talk a better game than Clowney.
Ford spoke to the media about his use of video and in-depth game analysis, while the South Carolina man is far more aloof in front of the microphone.
But that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Clowney may not work as hard as some others, and prefers to do most of his talking on the field. But if he can rediscover that 2012 form, and make an impression come game time in the NFL, other concerns are likely to become moot points.
In terms of playing style it is difficult to directly compare the two athletes.
The pair have different qualities on the gridiron.
Clowney is a major disruptive force – using power and speed to cause havoc to opposition offense.
Ford meanwhile, is a legitimate defensive threat flying in off the edge and is a consistently effective pass-rusher - but lacks that presence that a 6'6", 276 pound frame brings.
Ford has certainly closed the gap to Clowney in recent times, but when it comes down to it the raw physical attributes that Jadeveon Clowney possesses make him the stand out defensive pick in this year's draft.
While Dee Ford is a legitimate competitor for that title NFL scouts seem likely to view him as number two defensive end come May.
Both Ford and Clowney are set up for solid pro careers. It just looks like Clowney will be beginning his with the edge.
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