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And Another Thing

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Associated Press
Take him in the draft, and you're gonna have a perennial All-Pro for who knows how many years.

The Clowney conundrum

I love the NFL combine. You can't find more chronic over-reaction and second-and-third-guessing anywhere on the planet at any time.

Case in point: Jadeveon Clowney, the ridiculously talented defensive end who should be the no-brainer No. 1 pick in the draft, but might not be because some people think his work ethic is lacking, and he didn't bench-press enough, and, well ...

Please, people. Puh-leeze.

Listen: All you've got to know about Clowney is that his 40 time beat a lot of the wide receivers at the combine. And he had a 37-inch vertical leap. That's a defensive end doing that.

The man is a physical freak. Everyone agrees. Take him in the draft, and you're gonna have a perennial All-Pro for who knows how many years.

As for the reservations ... they don't amount to a spit in the ocean. Yeah, his bench press was a little underwhelming. And, yeah, his college coach, Steve Spurrier, has publicly questioned his work ethic.

And your point is, Coach?

Again: Clowney is a ridiculous natural talent. And with a few exceptions (Hello, Michael Jordan), ridiculous natural talents have almost never had great work ethic, because their ridiculous natural talent enabled them to excel without it. So it wasn't really in their makeup.

I'm thinking here of Bo Jackson, the greatest athlete of my lifetime and perhaps anyone's lifetime. Bo won the Heisman Trophy at Auburn, so he was a football guy. He basically played major-league baseball on the side, without ever really having the time to put a lot of work into it. Yet if he hadn't had the career-ending injury he had, he'd likely be in both Canton and Cooperstown today.

One last story: Back in the 1980s, the Colts had a perennial All-Pro offensive lineman named Chris Hinton, who's now in their Ring of Honor. Hinton, in those dreary days, was probably the best football player the Colts had.

But you know what?

At the end of every day in training camp, the Colts would all line up and run wind sprints. They'd send the offensive unit off first, and, when that unit got to midfield, they'd send the defensive unit. One day, Hinton dogged it so bad he not only got passed by all the offensive players, he got passed by the defensive guys, too.

Of course, when the season started, he went out and kicked tail. Because he was that good.

So. Chill, people. Clowney's gonna be fine.

Ben Smith's blog.

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