Jadeveon Clowney has taken his share of jabs from draft experts and even his own former college coach for what many perceive to be a poor work ethic. Some scouts have questioned whether Clowney might be too big a risk to take high in the draft.
Former Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore came to his ex-teammate's defense Saturday, telling NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport that Clowney's effort level isn't something that his future NFL team will have to worry about.
"I think when he gets around professionals, once he gets around J.J. Watt, those veterans, sees what it takes every single day, he'll be just like those guys," Lattimore said while promoting EAS Sports Nutrition supplements. "He's going to be fine. That's what happens. You get around pros, and you learn, and you start doing it. When the competition gets high, he'll rise to it."
Clowney, coming off a standout performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, is widely considered a potential No. 1 overall draft pick. Three of NFL.com's four mock drafts have the Houston Texans taking Clowney with the first pick.But the concerns over Clowney's work ethic have hurt his draft stock in some circles. NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock has said they're enough of a red flag that Clowney might not be the first defensive player taken in the draft; Mayock said he would take Buffalo LB Khalil Mack over Clowney.
Lattimore, who played with Clowney at South Carolina for two seasons before being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers last year, said he thinks Clowney will be just fine, and that whoever drafts him won't regret it.
"He has all the talent in the world. He kind of reminds me of Aldon Smith with how athletic he is, the quickness," Lattimore said, referring to the 49ers' Pro Bowl linebacker. "I think he's going to do great."
Asked about Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier's remark that Clowney's work ethic is just "OK," Lattimore laughed and said, "That's just coach Spurrier. Clowney is a great player."
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