“He’s lazy…..He’s never worked a hard day in his life!” – anonymous NFL executive regarding Jedeveon Clowney.
A funny thing happens in the weeks leading up to the NFL draft. NFL executives, famously tight-lipped the rest of the year (here, here, and here), strangely start opening up to well placed journalists to tell them why prospect “X” really isn’t a good prospect at all. Mike Zimmer, the head coach of the quarterback starved Minnesota Vikings, complained of the “choreography” of Johnny Manziel’s workout, and then said “red flags” came up during a dinner with Manziel and his representative. Similarly, Teddy Bridgewater’s draft stock, already hobbled by a poor pro day workout, has continued to plummet after reports of poor private workouts surfaced. Bridgewater, the presumptive overall no. 1 pick at the end of the regular season, is now thought to be a second round selection by some.
That NFL executives play mind games before the draft to attempt to influence certain players to fall into their laps is nothing new. Several scouts stated, anonymously of course, before that 1998 draft that Peyton Manning may not get any better in the pro’s. This is all part of the grand dance, the annual NFL ball, where teams trade dance partners on a whim, try to steal each other’s date, and leave the jilted sobbing in the corner. The Texans are currently leading the dance, as the holder of the (sometimes) coveted first pick in the draft. Texans brass have been effusive in their praise of all the top prospects, most notably Jadeveon Clowney, of whom owner Bob Mcnair said “He is a remarkable player. He’s one of these players that’s really a once-in-every-10-years kind of physical specimen that comes along.” But Mcnair has also said that he would consider trading the first pick to gather more draft choices. Now, given the chance to draft somebody that he considers a once in a generation talent, would Mr. Mcnair actually trade that pick for a bunch of lesser prospects? Or is he simply praising Clowney in an attempt to shake some potential trade suitors from the woodwork? My guess is the latter, as there were reports that the Buffalo Bills initiated conversations with the Texans to trade for the pick. Although that trade fell apart, the Texans are still clearly interested in finding another dance partner. And they’ll keep trumpeting the value of Clowney, Manziel, etc. until they find one. Whether they mean it or not.