To the surprise of no one, Saturday’s availability of defensive ends and linebackers proved to include the most-attended press conferences of the week.
South Carolina defensive end Jadaveon Clowney showed that in addition to possessing elite talent as an NFL pass-rusher, his confidence in being the draft’s top overall pick is also first-rate.
“My goal is to go number one,” Clowney said. “I went out of high school as the number-one player, so I want to come into the league as the number-one guy. I just want to be the best, one of the greatest of all time.”
Clowney took the college football world by storm during his sophomore season at South Carolina, when he piled up 13 sacks and 23 tackles for loss for the Gamecocks.
He enters this draft as potentially the only defensive player to be chosen in the top five picks. To support his case as a potential top-five pick, Clowney referenced this year’s Super Bowl, which featured a dominant defensive performance from Seattle en route to a 43-8 win over Denver.
“You watched the Super Bowl,” Clowney said. “Defense wins championships.”
In another highly anticipated press conference, University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam addressed the media for the first time since becoming the first openly gay potential NFL draft pick.
Sam, who is projected by many to be selected in the latter rounds of the draft in May as a situational pass-rusher, addressed the media attention surrounding his announcement earlier this month, as well as expressing a desire for his football prowess to overshadow his sexual orientation moving forward.
“I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam, the football player instead of Michael Sam, the gay football player,” Sam said.
Sam credited his college teammates and coaches for creating a positive environment in which he was able to thrive, as he capped his career at Missouri by being named SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
News and notes:
-UCLA LB Anthony Barr, viewed by some as a potential top-10 pick and possibly the first linebacker chosen in May, discussed his swift progression since moving to defense just two years ago.
“I think if I continue to work, the sky is the limit,” Barr said. “I think the things I need to work on the most is shedding blocks and defending the run. All those things are still new to me, that I’m still working on. If I continue to work at it, I think I can perfect those.
-Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater spoke to media Friday, a day following top-ranked quarterbacks Blake Bortles of Central Florida and Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M. Bridgewater weighed in at 214 pounds upon arriving in Indianapolis, about nine pounds above his playing weight. The weight increase is by design, and may continue in the coming months.
“It was a huge focus,” Bridgewater said. “I put on about nine pounds. I was 205 pounds when I finished the season at the University of Louisville. I’ve been working hard with my eating habits, my weight room lifting and everything. Hopefully I relieved all doubts with my size. I know that I still have more weight that I can put on. Each day I’m still going to work hard, continue to add even more weight.”