NFL scouts who aren't sure about Jadeveon Clowney's work ethic aren't hard to find, but the defensive end position as a whole isn't getting a pass, either.
The former South Carolina star has drawn front-line fire for months from scouts as the top name among a group of defensive end prospects that isn't considered an especially deep pool of talent. Along with Clowney, Notre Dame's Stephon Tuitt, Missouri's Kony Ealy and Auburn's Dee Ford -- possibly the next three defensive ends drafted after Clowney -- all drew some rather scathing remarks in a report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The word on Clowney, perhaps, was the most negative.
"At what point of his life has he had to push himself? Now you're going to give him this money and say, 'Do something you've never done in your life before ... against guys you just can't run over?'," one scout said back in March. "I would not put my job on the line for that guy. Who has a profile like that that's been successful in the NFL?"
Clowney, despite any concerns, is still projected more than any other prospect to be the No. 1 overall pick of the NFL draft on Thursday night. If not by the Houston Texans, then perhaps by a club trading up for him. But the reviews on Ealy weren't much kinder:
"He thinks he's already an Aldon Smith-type player. Classic con man. I don't trust this kid. He will be just a big pain in the (expletive)," said one scout. "He's one of those 'let somebody else draft him' guys." ... Added another: "There's no outstanding traits about him other than he gives you some versatility in a bad (defensive-line) draft. He's a mess. Somebody's going to draft him because they need a defensive end and overdraft him."
On Auburn's Ford: "Kind of a one-trick pony guy. Just an outside rusher with limited moves at this point. He's so undersized, he's not really a factor against the run. If he doesn't win with quickness and speed right off the bat he doesn't have the strength, bulk or length to hold the point, anchor and rip off blocks," said a scout.
In Clowney, Ealy and Ford, these scouts have picked on three of the draft's most colorfully quotable players. Their direct responses would be a lot of fun.
But the responses that matter will be the ones on the field.