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What we learned: Takeaways from Sunday at NFL combine

  • By Chase Goodbread and Dan Parr
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Jadeveon Clowney has a target on his back, and one his fellow defensive end prospects fired an arrow directly at the bullseye Sunday, setting the stage for a showdown Monday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Auburn's Dee Ford did the deed.

"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," Ford said on Sirius XM NFL Radio Sunday. "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 he's a physical specimen. Honestly, if you watch the film, he plays like a blind dog in a meat market, basically."

Prospects tend to play nice with each other at the combine, but Ford broke protocol, and now he'll get a chance to back up the talk when he and Clowney compete in drills on Monday.

Consider us intrigued.

Here's what else the College Football 24/7 team learned about draft prospects on Day 4 at the combine:

More prospect-on-prospect crime

Dee Ford isn't the only prospect unafraid to take a swipe at one of his more highly touted colleagues.

Tough day for Buckeyes

Former Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde injured a hamstring while running the 40-yard dash Sunday, but he's not the only prospect from Ohio State at less than 100 percent. Hyde's ex-teammate, LB Ryan Shazier, said he's dealing with a tweaked hamstring himself and doesn't know if he'll run in drills Monday. Shazier said he's battling a cold, too. It's nothing those two prospects, who both appear to fit into the second round at the latest, can't overcome.

Missed by that much

After all the hype, Kent State's Dri Archer and Clemson's Sammy Watkins came up short in the race to catch Chris Johnson. Johnson still had to sweat a little on a speedy Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine, though.

Archer said he would break Johnson's record of 4.24 seconds in the 40 and almost did, coming up just short at 4.26. It was still easily the best time of the day. Watkins' attempt didn't cause as much of a stir -- he ran a 4.43 -- but in the big picture, he's still a potential top-five pick and Archer, a 5-foot-8, 173-pound waterbug, probably won't get picked until the mid-to-late rounds.

Archer's 4.26 seconds earned him his 15 minutes of fame, and a shoutout from Johnson.

Dowling feels disrespected

Western Kentucky defensive back Jonathan Dowling, a two-time first-team All-Sun Belt selection, thinks he's a lot better than people give him credit for, and he's not afraid to say it. Sunday h was asked what an NFL team would get by drafting him. "I feel like they're getting a diamond. Not even a diamond in the rough. They're getting a pure diamond that's very discernible," Dowling said. "I feel like I make a lot of plays at Western that don't get any respect because I'm in the Sun Belt. ... I got a chip on my shoulder and I'm ready to prove it." That's fine, but the concerns about Dowling have more to do with his tackling and intangibles than the conference he played in.

Being named Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is rough

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix might be the best safety in this year's draft, and he definitely has one of the most memorable names in this year's class of prospects. His answer Sunday to a question about his name won't soon be forgotten, either.

A reporter asked him what's the worst thing you've ever heard about your name.

"The whole President Clinton thing with Monica Lewinsky. Whatever. I didn't know too much about that, but that's pretty much what it was," Clinton-Dix said.

Yes, he went there, and it drew one of the biggest laughs of the weekend.

Call out or slip-up?

Did South Carolina cornerback Vic Hampton take a jab at rival Tennessee's disciplinary issues with players? We don't think so -- probably just a slip of the tongue -- but when asked about his discipline issues at South Carolina, which included his near-dismissal from the program as a young player, he described them thusly: "Started off a little rough, a little Rocky Top." Hampton attended four high schools as a prep player and had a rough early go with coach Steve Spurrier before maturing over his last couple of years. He did compliment Tennessee later in his interview (see below).

Best they've faced

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2014 NFL Scouting Combine

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Hampton on the best wide receivers he faced in college: "Other than (former teammate) Alshon Jeffery, I'd have to say (Titans WR) Justin Hunter, or (Colts WR) Da'Rick Rogers from Tennessee."

Auburn DE Dee Ford on the best offensive tackles he faced in the SEC: "Greg Robinson. ... One I played against? I'd have to say (Tennessee's) Ja'Wuan James. He's pretty good."

The name game

Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert on New England Patriots CB Aqib Talib: "I don't know who that is."

Speed to burn

Gilbert believes he can run in the 4.2 range, which could be a combine record, when his shot at the 40-yard dash comes up Tuesday: "4.2, 4.3, I'll be satisfied. I ran a 4.33 a couple weeks ago, and that was just my first attempt. I'm usually faster on my second attempt, so hopefully I can get down there."

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