Clowney decided not to participate during the drills for defensive linemen. In a very brief interview with Warren Sapp of NFL Network, Clowney said he didn’t like one of the drills the rest of the defensive linemen were doing, on which they began face-down on the ground and then had to get up and high-step over and around blocking pads.
“I don’t like how they start on the ground,” Clowney said with a grin.
But starting on the ground apparently wasn’t his only problem with the drill: Clowney also sat out later drills in which players started in a three-point stance, and he then told NFL Network’s Willie McGinest that the real reason he wasn’t participating is that he has hip flexor tightness. Clowney did say he still plans to do the vertical jump and the broad jump.
It’s common for quarterbacks to sit out the passing drills at the Combine, but most defensive linemen do everything unless there’s a medical reason not to. Sapp and NFL Network’s Mike Mayock both suggested that some NFL teams may lose a little respect for Clowney for deciding to sit out while other defensive linemen are working.
This decision might play into the perception that Clowney is an amazingly gifted athlete but not much of a worker. Or NFL teams might decide that Clowney made so many big hits with pads on that they don’t particularly care if he doesn’t want to run around in shorts hitting tackling dummies.