Draft analysts had a you salivate over Jadeveon Clowney, who had to go back for another year of marinating in college football because of silly eligibility rules.
Before draft season began, Clowney was easily the top prospect in the draft. Four months of dragging his draft stock through the mud later, we're not sure who will go No. 1.
He had a down 2013 season, at least statistically with just three sacks to his name. The top pass-rusher heading into the draft had some 'splainin' to do, and the questions began.
It wasn't long before his Old Ball Coach at South Carolina gave the media this sound byte at the NFL combine:
Asked to evaluate the 6-foot-5, 274-pound pass rusher's work habits after three years in the Gamecocks' program -- South Carolina totaled 33 wins -- Spurrier might have added to the ammunition for scouts ready to interrogate Clowney at the NFL Scouting Combine this week.
"He was OK," Spurrier said on NFL Network, the implication being that Clowney didn't exactly wear out the alarm clock or tax the hinges on the weight-room door. "It wasn't like Marcus Lattimore, you know, every player is a little different. His work habits are pretty good, they're not quite like Lattimore, a Stephon Gilmore, Melvin Ingram, some of those guys, but when the ball is snapped he's got something no one else has."
That, per CBS Sports' Jeff Reynolds, was enough to trigger a cascade of criticism for the freakishly athletic former Gamecock. He has been called "spoiled and lazy" by an anonymous NFL executive, per CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson, and NFL Network's Warren Sapp sees issues with Clowney's motor.
But how much truth is there to that statement?
To begin with, Spurrier didn't say Clowney had a poor work ethic. He said it was "OK." While that is no ringing endorsement, folks certainly took that and ran toward the "glass half empty" side of the room.
NFL media scout Jayson Braddock doesn't see a lazy player on tape, per the Battle Red Blog. Neither does Bus Cook, his agent, per USA Today's Jarrett Bell, though we should probably take a player's agent's words with a healthy dose of salt.
Clowney himself is sick of the talk, per the Associated Press, saying he is tired of the questions about his work ethic. And why wouldn't he? You would think his amazing combine and pro day performances would dispel any notion that he was lazy.
The 6'6", 250-pound lineman might be an athletic freak of nature, but you have to work hard to perform at elite levels at those events.
At any rate, Clowney did a lot of good things on tape that didn't show up in the stats. He is a prodigiously athletic pass-rusher with an immense ceiling.
Are you passing on him in the first round?