When Jadeveon Clowney gets set to run the 40-yard dash this weekend in Indianapolis, everyone will be watching.
While scouts and viewers alike are expecting the rest of the field to either improve or hurt its draft stock, all we really want from Clowney is for him to put on a show.
However, while he is arguably the best NFL prospect of his generation, Clowney still has questions surrounding him that he must answer.
As opposed to the usual, "Is he a first-round talent or a second rounder?", these are more to the tune of: "Is he the best we've ever seen or just in the conversation?"
Not bad questions to have asked about you.
Is he the fastest defensive end prospect we've ever seen?
The over/under for Jadeveon Clowney's 40-yard dash time has been set at 4.51 seconds (via BetOnline) #NFLCombine— SportsInsights.com (@SportsInsights) February 21, 2014
According to the NFL's official combine results, the fastest official 40-yard dash time on record for a defensive end is 4.47 seconds, recorded by Alabama-Birmingham's Bryan Thomas in 2002.
According to Clowney, we should have every reason to believe he'll top that. Per Anwar S. Richardson of Yahoo! Sports:
"I hope to run a 4.4 (second) right now," Clowney said. "That’s my goal. On hand times, I’ve been running 4.4s. I hope I can get a 4.4 at the combine. A 4.5, I’m not too worried about … I ain’t going to run a 4.6. I’m probably going to run low 4.5, 4.4."
If Clowney blows the record out of the water with a time in the 4.4s, NFL scouts are going to be salivating even more than they already are.
Is he worth the top overall pick even if the need at quarterback is much greater?
The Houston Texans need a quarterback badly. However, could Clowney have a combine performance that makes him impossible to pass on?
Houston has actually been in this position before. Back in 2006, when everyone expected them to address their need at running back and take the electrifying Reggie Bush, they shocked the football world and took Mario Williams instead
For anyone questioning if the need for a running back in 2006 was actually that great, the Texans' leading rushers that season were Ron Dayne and Wali Lundy.
The decision had a lot to do with Williams' incredible performance at the combine.
Let's take a look at what he did in comparison to what Clowney is projected to do (take these projections with a grain of salt as they are, in fact, projections being made by Clowney himself):
|40-yard dash||Vertical Jump||Bench Press Reps|
|Clowney (projected)||4.4-4.5 seconds||38"||25|
NFL Draft Scout
If Clowney puts up these kind of numbers in Indy this weekend, no one will blame the Texans for taking him. The combination of Clowney and J.J. Watt coming off the ends for Houston would be terrifying.
We all know the Texans need a QB, but if Clowney puts on an absolute show at the combine, would you support Houston drafting him No.1?
Is he content with current status, or is he still hungry?
In an event that is quite stressful for the majority of prospects, Clowney has the luxury of remaining pretty carefree all weekend.
No matter what he does in Indianapolis, aside from inexplicably running a 5.0 40-yard dash or benching 225 pounds under 20 times, he isn't going to slip out of the top five in the draft.
However, he would be wise to take the combine very seriously. With comments from his former coach, Steve Spurrier, already being blown out of proportion, Clowney can't afford to look disinterested or content with his performance.
South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier on @nflnetwork about the work ethic of Jadeveon Clowney "He was OK". Ouch.— Newy Scruggs (@newyscruggs) February 19, 2014
Instead of appearing content with the accolades and hype that he's received up to this point, Clowney needs to appear hungry to prove himself to the few doubters that still remain.