Dee Ford enjoyed a stellar Senior Bowl performance following a great final year at Auburn, but he won't be able to continue that momentum Monday at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
The speedy defensive end, who just a day ago ripped ex-South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney, his more highly touted draft classmate, was medically scratched from the action at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Steve Wyche of NFL.com provided a synopsis of Ford discussing the ruling:
Dee Ford said medicals flagged a 2011 procedure for a herniated disc in lower back. Not major but advised not to compete.— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) February 24, 2014
Scott Hanson of NFL Network first broke the news:
Breaking: Auburn's Dee Ford will not work out today at Combine. Medical. More to come at 9am on http://t.co/0SFgvTTnRc Live— Scott Hanson (@ScottHanson) February 24, 2014
Rich Eisen noted how Ford wouldn't get the opportunity to make good on his bold claims that he is better than Clowney:
Looks like Dee Ford won't be able to back up his claim that he's better than Clowney today. Combine medical crew scratching him.— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) February 24, 2014
ESPN.com news services reported what Ford said in a Sunday interview on Sirius XM regarding Clowney's playing style and how he thought his inferior size shouldn't prevent him from being labeled the better player:
I'm 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. You can look at guys like Robert Mathis, Elvis Dumervil, Von Miller. These are 6-2 guys and under. People are just looking at the fact that [Clowney] is a physical specimen. Honestly if you watch the film, he plays like a blind dog in a meat market basically.
As long as this injury situation isn't all that serious, there will be plenty of chances for Ford to prove he's superior to Clowney. Josh Norris of NBC Sports likened Ford's last-minute scratch to what happened to defensive lineman Star Lotulelei last year:
Not that I'm saying their medicals are the same, but this Dee Ford situation happened to Star last year. Held out before workout.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) February 24, 2014
Who will have more sacks as an NFL rookie?
The combine can be overblown, and numbers in a workout don't translate to production on the field all the time. Having said that, there is deserved hype surrounding Clowney, who is coming off a rather strange final season with the Gamecocks in which some questioned his effort at times and he didn't play with a consistent motor.
MMQB.com founder and longtime NFL reporter Peter King isn't quite sold on Clowney's passion for football, giving credence in a way to Ford's assessment in that he lacks attention to detail in his approach:
That's where Ford has an upper hand and perhaps a point, because he was more productive than Clowney in 2013 from a statistical standpoint, registering 10.5 sacks to Clowney's meager three.
Ford is a relentless pass-rusher, and while Clowney's physicality gives him an undoubted advantage and more upside, there are encouraging signs from Ford that suggest he will project well at the next level. But Monday's drills were a great chance for Ford to back up his bravado—and perhaps improve his draft stock in the process. Regardless, both Ford and Clowney are talented players coming out of top-flight collegiate competition in the SEC.
They have differing skill sets, with Clowney a disruptive force in the trenches and Ford more the type to play standing up or just flying in off the edge, but both should be productive NFL players for years to come. Even though Clowney will be drafted before Ford, it should be interesting to monitor each of them in their rookie seasons and see if this jab by Ford ever gets a response.