NEW YORK — Jadeveon Clowney just wants it to be over already.
The NFL’s first May draft gave everyone a little more time to critique the prospects and try to figure out who is going where and when.
No player has been more scrutinized than Clowney, the defensive end from South Carolina whose every move — on and off the field — has been analyzed since he ended his sophomore season with a helmet-removing hit against Michigan.
“I’ve been tired of it. I wish the draft was two or three weeks ago,” Clowney said Wednesday after playing flag football with grammar-school kids at the NFL’s Play 60 festival at a park on the west side of Manhattan.
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The Houston Texans have the first pick and Clowney could be their guy. Or maybe it’s Khalil Mack, the stud linebacker from Buffalo. Or maybe they’ll take a quarterback, such as Johnny Manziel. Or maybe they’ll trade the pick.
The NFL has given fans two extra weeks to ponder these questions. The draft is usually held in April, but some scheduling conflicts at Radio City Music Hall caused the NFL to push it back. Commissioner Roger Goodell said that it’s too soon to say whether May drafts are here to stay.
This year’s draft finally gets under way Thursday night, Day 1 of the three-day, made-for-TV marathon. Rounds 2 and 3 are Friday night. It concludes with four rounds Saturday, when there will likely be more intrigue than usual. Missouri linebacker Michael Sam, who made public that he is gay back in February, is projected to be a possible late-round selection. The NFL has never had an openly gay player. Sam is trying to be the first, though he might have to get there as an undrafted free agent.
But first, the Texans are on the clock. Will they take Clowney?
“Man, I don’t know,” the 266-pound pass rusher said. “Do you know?”
Houston needs a quarterback and new coach Bill O’Brien has said he plans to add one during this draft. Many fans in southeast Texas would like it to be Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner and native Texan who played for Texas A&M.
Manziel’s character has been questioned after having a brush with the law and another with the NCAA during his time at A&M. And he’s had his heavy-on-improvisation style dissected by scouts. He’s also a little short by NFL quarterback standards, just under 6 feet. Still, his play was so sensational he could end up as a top-five pick.
“I don’t care if I’m No. 1 or 200, I just want to play,” Manziel said.
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