INDIANAPOLIS -- Former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney officially clocked a 4.53 40-yard dash Monday at the NFL Scouting Combine to lead all defensive linemen.
Potentially the No. 1 overall pick of the Texans in the 2014 NFL Draft, Clowney said earlier in the week that he could run in the 4.4 range. His unofficial times of 4.47 and 4.48 were poised to back up that claim, but his official adjustment pushed his time above 4.5. Official times at the combine have been slower than unofficial times across the board, in some cases by a significant margin. Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel ran a best unofficial 4.56 time Sunday that was adjusted to an official 4.68 later in the day, and Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins' best unofficial time was a 4.34, later adjusted to 4.43.
Regardless, Clowney's much-heralded speed was obvious enough to NFL coaches and scouts on hand who expected him to be among the most impressive combine performers. Clowney weighed in at 266 pounds upon his arrival in Indianapolis, down several pounds from his college playing weight, presumably to help him run a better time.
The next-best 40 times among defensive linemen behind Clowney weren't exactly household names: Bloomsburg (Penn.) University's Larry Webster (4.58), followed by Shepherd (W.V.) University's Howard Jones (4.60). More recognizable prospects Jackson Jeffcoat of Texas (4.63), Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald (4.68) and Marcus Smith of Louisville (4.68) finished fourth, fifth and sixth in the position group, respectively.
Fellow top-tier prospects Watkins and North Carolina TE Eric Ebron tweeted their appreciation for Clowney's speed Monday:
My boy @clownejd was moving looked like a 4.3 to me he might hit it next keep pushing bro— Sammy Watkins (@sammywatkins) February 24, 2014
My Boy Clowney Just Ran A 4.47 �� #MyGod— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) February 24, 2014
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.