INDIANAPOLIS -- Jadeveon Clowney might have come up a bit short of his listed college height at the NFL Scouting Combine on Saturday, measuring at 6-foot-5 1/4, but the Clowney measurement that raised the most attention was an 83-inch wingspan, which indicates a prospect's length from fingertip to fingertip with arms outstretched.
For defensive ends, it matters.
Technique at the position will require Clowney to keep as much distance as possible between himself and oncoming blockers, whose goal will be to get two fists full of Clowney's jersey in the chest area, close enough not to be flagged for holding. The length of Clowney's arms can make that a challenge.
By comparison, former Auburn defensive end Dee Ford, who is considered squarely within the next tier of draftable pass rushers after Clowney, had just a 77-inch wingspan.
Still, Clowney's wingspan wasn't the biggest of the day at the combine. A few who topped it: North Carolina's Kareem Martin (84 1/2), Tennessee nose guard Daniel McCullers (87), and Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith (83 1/8). Smith's might be more shocking than anyone's, given that he measured just 6-foot-1 in height.
So what does a 7-foot wingspan look like? Remember the name Deontay Wilder, who might soon be the next heavyweight boxing champion with the dynamic presence the division has lacked for years. At 30-0 with 30 knockouts, Wilder uses an 84-inch wingspan to deliver jabs from one end of the ring to the other. If Clowney can keep blockers at arm's length the way Wilder can drop heavyweights, some NFL club will be thrilled.