As if he needed the help, Jadeveon Clowney used the spotlight of South Carolina's pro day to cement what is already known—he won't be on the board when commissioner Roger Goodell reaches the podium a sixth time.
It's no secret Clowney is a rare prospect. It's no secret he has naysayers and must compete with quarterbacks at the top of the draft. Heck, it's no secret pro days are epically blown out of proportion to the benefit of everyone involved, from the player on up.
Alas, Clowney has finally silenced doubters with one final performance. Like everyone else, Clowney sounds as if he thinks any narratives about his work ethic should have come to a screeching halt a long time ago, as captured by John Oehser of the Jacksonville Jaguars' website:
Jadeveon Clowney on if he's tired of answering work ethic questions: "I've been tired of it," He said it smiling, says part of the process.— John Oehser (@JohnOehser) April 2, 2014
When it comes to Clowney's pro potential, all that matters now is that he lands with a suitable coaching staff.
His pro day just reasserted what is already known. He was superb in most drills, as ESPN's Kevin Weidl points out:
The lower body flexibility and overall agility Clowney shows for his measureables (6055,266) are rare. Making it look easy out here.— Kevin Weidl (@KevinW_ESPN) April 2, 2014
Again, "rare" isn't just a buzzword here. A player of Clowney's stature (6'6" and 266 pounds) and supreme athleticism (4.53 40-yard dash at scouting combine, among other jaw-dropping measurables in addition to the display on Wednesday) doesn't come around often.
It helps that this insane set of tools essentially makes him scheme versatile. Clowney looked a bit stiff in coverage drills and was rarely asked to do it at the collegiate level, but his athleticism makes up for a lack of experience.
Again—the right coaching staff can mold his technique in time.
For his part, Clowney is more than willing to stand up as a pro, as captured by Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle:
Clowney said he's fully open to playing linebacker in NFL; actually looking forward to it if opportunity's there. pic.twitter.com/nLTcIJqE8E— Brian T. Smith (@ChronBrianSmith) April 2, 2014
In short, Clowney's pro day was a formality. Why give critics the ammunition by not going all out? NFL Network's Mike Mayock and others were ready to call it a day early given the nature of the proceedings:
Clowney drawing rave reviews. Mayock: I've seen enough. DL coaches are shaking their heads + laughing.— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) April 2, 2014
Josh Kendall of The State puts a little cliché "icing on the cake" with the news Clowney may not have been 100 percent for the day's festivities:
Jadeveon Clowney was working out with a slight groin pull today.— Josh Kendall (@JoshatTheState) April 2, 2014
As has always been the case, Clowney is a top-five pick. That's being generous, but one has to accommodate for the nature of the draft, where the most talented player does not always come off the board first because of other team factors such as need.
Where will Clowney be selected?
No. 1 overall is in play, as a defense with Clowney and J.J. Watt looks quite special on paper in Houston. So is No. 2, as St. Louis has two picks in the round and would love a three-headed monster at defensive end before Robert Quinn's contract expires after next season. Clowney would be the best end on the roster in Jacksonville, owners of the third pick.
The final step in the lengthy process is over for Clowney. He's fended off big-name defenders such as Buffalo's Khalil Mack. He's likely solidified himself as the No. 1 player on most boards, although he probably already entered Wednesday that way. Boards won't change much at this stage barring something drastic.
Now Clowney will meet with teams on an individual basis. South Carolina's pro day was just one very public reminder that he won't make it out of the top five come May.