Clowney says he should be top pick in NFL draft

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - Former Gamecock standout Jadeveon Clowney thinks he has what it takes to be the top pick in this spring's NFL draft.

The Rock Hill native was interviewed on The Dan Patrick Show Thursday morning. When fill-in host Chris Mannix asked Clowney if he should be the top pick by the Houston Texans, Clowney had a simple answer.

"Yes, sir," Clowney told Mannix. "I should."

Clowney has been working out for the NFL combine since wrapping up his South Carolina career in the Capital One Bowl last month.

He had just completed a morning upper-body workout before he appeared on the program.

During the roughly five-minute interview, the hosts covered everything from Clowney's training regimen, to his combine goals, to whether he regretted returning to USC for his junior season.

"No, I do not," Clowney said. "Coming into the season, I had a lot of high expectations on myself, but things didn't go along with the plan. We finished No. 4 in the country, so it was a good season."

Clowney's production dropped off considerably from his sophomore season. He collected just three sacks and 41 tackles as a follow-up to the eye-popping 13 sacks and 54 tackles he racked up as a sophomore.

Some analysts suggested Clowney sit out his junior year and train for the draft to avoid the risk of injury. Since last spring, Clowney has said that thought never crossed his mind, although he did sit out several games with a rib injury and lingering issues with bone spurs in his foot.

It was thought Clowney would have surgery following his junior season to address the bone spur issue, but, now that story has changed. The defensive end said Thursday he is feeling much better and is putting off surgery. Clowney added he would have surgery eventually if his future NFL team thinks it's best for him to do so.

Analysts have Clowney pegged as a top-five pick. Last month, talk about his potential as the top pick picked up considerable steam when Texans owner Bob McNair, who happens to be a South Carolina alum, spoke highly of Clowney.

"He's one of these players who's a once-in-every-10 years kind of physical specimen that comes along," McNair said in January.

However, McNair also questioned Clowney's work ethic and indicated that, if chosen by the Texans at number one, Clowney would be paired up with Pro Bowl defensive end J.J. Watt to help him develop stronger work habits.

For what it's worth, the hosts of The Dan Patrick Show said they would choose former Heisman winner and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel over Clowney.

The 2014 NFL Draft starts Thursday, May 8.