INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Auburn defensive end Dee Ford isn't backing down from his assessment that the NFL draft's top-rated pass rusher, Jadeveon Clowney, plays like "a blind dog in a meat market." And Ford still insists he, not Clowney, is the best pass rusher available in the 2014 NFL Draft. But in a Monday interview with NFL Network's Kimberly Jones at the NFL Scouting Combine, Ford also wanted to clarify that there are no hard feelings between he and Clowney.
Ford said the phrase came from Notre Dame assistant coach Brian VanGorder, who coached Ford at Auburn in 2012.
"He told me that I had all the first-round ability in the world, but he said I rely on my athleticism, you know, rather than really (bringing) the technical aspects, the fundamental part of the game, watching film, to really become a great pass rusher," Ford said. "So therefore I'm a blind dog in a meat market. So that's one thing he used. When I see Jadeveon, that's what I see. He's 6-foot-6, 270 [pounds], 4.4 guy. He just plays. He can make plays like that, but at the end of the day, does that make you a great pass rusher or a better pass rusher than me? No."
Clowney could be the No. 1 overall pick of the Houston Texans, and if not, is expected to be chosen soon after in the May 8-10 draft. He was unofficially timed at 4.47 and 4.48 in two 40-yard dashes Monday, blazing-fast times for a 266-pound defensive end. Entering the combine, Ford was ranked the draft's No. 39 overall prospect by NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah. Ford was unable to compete in drills Monday due to medical reasons.
Asked by Jones about Clowney's 40-yard dash times, Ford was duly impressed: "We're not saying that the dog can't run. We're just saying that he can't find the meat," he said. "That wasn't a personal shot at him at all. That's my guy, you know what I'm saying? We are at this thing talking right now, so it's all good. It's just fun. It's competition, and I want everyone to understand that. That was not a personal shot at him. Me and Jadeveon are cool. We laughing about the situation. I think some of his fans are very upset right now, but it's all cool. It's love right now."
Clowney, for his part, gave some mixed signals about whether he was bothered by Ford's remarks in an interview with NFL Network.
"I told him, 'I don't see you out here. You ain't doing none of these drills.' For him to say something, I (didn't) want to hear it," Clowney said. "I just feel like he just said that to build his stock up or something. But it didn't bother me. I told him, 'I'm still better than you.'"
Asked about the exchange of words the two had on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf, however, Clowney indicated he and Ford were on good terms.
"He was talking to me about what people said about a tweet. Like he said, it's competition," Clowney added. "We're just out here having fun, enjoying ourselves. He felt like he needed something to help himself out, to say something. But I was fine with it."
Ford said he will participate in all drills at his pro day event at Auburn on March 4. If we're all lucky enough, he'll participate in a media interview as well.