My advice to Jadeveon Clowney on the eve of his pro day is to resist the temptation of trying to one-up the show Johnny Manziel put on at his workout last week.
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He should avoid the drama and just compete.
Manziel set a new standard, wearing a helmet and shoulder pads and performing to a soundtrack as a former U.S. president watched from the sideline during the event.
Now, Clowney might be a rock star in his own right (he certainly looked like one at the NFL Scouting Combine), but, even as one of the most gifted prospects we've seen in a while, he doesn't draw the spotlight that Manziel does, and he doesn't need to try to upstage Manziel, even though he's competing against the Texas A&M QB to become the No. 1 overall pick.
Clowney just needs to go out and do his work -- it might sound simple, but getting the job done in these pressure-packed situations is far from a breeze.
I asked an NFL scout what Clowney needs to show at his pro day and he told me, "What he has to do is compete when pressed."
Unlike Manziel's pro-day workout, Clowney's will be less scripted. It will be much more under the control of the people who work him out, and he'll be asked to do some things Wednesday that he's not totally expecting. NFL evaluators will want to see how he reacts outside his comfort zone. We'll see Clowney do all the usual defensive-line drills, but I'll be stunned if he isn't asked to do outside-linebacker drills, as well. Teams that utilize a 3-4 defense will want to get a look at him dropping back into coverage, seeing if he can catch football. They'll want to see his versatility.
We all know the biggest question marks about Clowney relate to his motor and work ethic. A lot of that talk has been muted over the course of the offseason as teams have found that some of the conventional wisdom about Clowney's effort is myth and not reality, but still, there is that perception. It takes root a lot with incredibly talented players like Clowney, who make difficult things look effortless.
Those rumblings are the things he's trying to dispel, not to prove he's a great showman.
I want to see Clowney work like it means something to him. If he monotonously goes through drills, I don't think people will be impressed. Coaches always say, "Whenever there's a drill that has a finishing line, you don't run to the line, you run through the line."
They'll want to see through-the-line effort Wednesday, and I expect he'll rise to the occasion in a workout that might be vastly toned-down compared to Manziel's, but no less impressive.
Clowney is the draft's best athlete, and I expect him to perform like it.