Comparisons between Jadeveon Clowney and eight-time Pro Bowler Julius Peppers aren't hard to find as NFL draft analysts seek to paint an illustration of what the former South Carolina defensive end is capable of in the NFL. What's harder to find is a good recollection of some of the knocks on Peppers' game when he was a draft prospect out of North Carolina in 2002.
Marty Hurney has one. And the profile on Peppers was strikingly similar to the one Clowney is labeled with today: spectacular athleticism, unspectacular work ethic.
"What frustrates people sometimes is you don't necessarily see it play in and play out, but it's very rare to find players of that ability that can make game-changing plays like he can," said the former Carolina Panthers general manager. "What is being said about Clowney was being said exactly about Julius Peppers. ... We had two months knowing we were on the clock. The question was, does Julius Peppers play with the motor, does he have the energy?"
Hurney and the Panthers thought so, and made Peppers the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. The payoff? Peppers delivered double-digit sacks in six of his eight seasons in Carolina, before the Chicago Bears enjoyed another 37.5 Peppers sacks in four subsequent seasons. Clowney would do well to even approach Peppers' career in the NFL.
And he's anxious to prove people wrong about his effort and love for the game.
"People want to know what's going on," Clowney told charlotteobserver.com. "I don't question my motor. I feel like my motor is very good. Teams will find out very soon."
Clowney's pro day workout next week will be a heavy attendance draw with NFL club personnel. Big names will come in big numbers to watch him perform the field drills that he skipped at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. It will be a much better indicator of his athleticism than of his future work ethic, but you can bet the NFL coaches leading the drills will be pushing him as hard as possible. They'll be looking for any sign of weakness, be it mental or physical.
As motors go, they'll be lucky if it's more than a peek under the hood.