Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina, Jr.
On a decrease in stats from 2012 to 2013: “Going into last season I had a lot of high expectations of myself. Things don’t always happen like you plan on,” Clowney said. “I was really trying to break the (career) sack record for us for the next guys coming in. There were a lot of ups and downs but we won 11 games, were 11-2, won our bowl game, finished No. 4 in the country for the first time in South Carolina history, so I was pretty excited about the season. I wasn’t worried about my stats really. A lot of game changing went on when we played teams: quick passes, two-on-one, opposite side runs, but that happens. I wasn’t really worried about my stats, I just wanted to win.
On why he should be selected with the first pick: “The Super Bowl, defense won that game, shut them down, shut them out,” Clowney said. “It takes defense to win championships, hands down. You had a great quarterback in Peyton Manning, hats off to him also, but defense wins the Super Bowl.”
Kony Ealy, Missouri, Jr.
On Clowney: “I think he’s very athletic, he’s a freak,” Ealy said. “It’s hard to contain him. And when you do contain him, it frees up a lot of other people. I see a similar game in me as far as being able to double me and freeing up a lot of my other teammates. I think he feeds off his teammates’ energy and I do the same thing. Pretty much the same size. He’s got a couple inches on me but other than that, just going out and competing.”
On being encouraged by what former teammate Sheldon Richardson did in his rookie season: “I have the confidence. I know I can go into the NFL and play right away. It’s just a matter of getting the plays and learning the playbook and when I do that, I’m going to be explosive.” And on what Richardson told him about the NFL: “He says it’s lavish, which means lovely.”
Dee Ford, Auburn, Sr.
On what he’s heard about his performance in the Senior Bowl: “The first thing they tell me is ‘You had a heck of a Senior Bowl,’ but my message is that was really nothing, honestly, because I was still in the healing process then, so we’re just going from there,” Ford said.
Projection: “I’m definitely going to be in the first round. I didn’t put in all this work to settle for second,” Ford said. “I feel like I am one of the best pass rushers in this draft and that’s what the NFL needs right now, so I’m definitely not going to say I’m going to fall into the second. I definitely believe I can be in the first.”
Scott Crichton, Oregon State, Jr.
In college: Crichton was selected second-team All-Pac 12 in 2013 after recording 47 tackles (29 solo), 19 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 2013. He was named first-team All-Pac 12 in 2012 after posting 44 tackles (23 solo), 17.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks as a sophomore. Crichton was honorable mention All-Pac 12 in 2011 with 74 tackles (48 solo), 14.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and a school single-season record of six forced fumbles. He redshirted in 2010.
On his decision to enter the draft now: “I did it for my family. I love my family. I’ve taken this responsibility to take care of them,” Crichton said. “My mom works two jobs, and my dad is disabled and still works a job, too. They are getting old and I want them to retire and just stop working. I just did this for my family. I was going to come back to college but just to see my family struggle — we didn’t have much growing up and to see my family struggle — I wasn’t OK with that so I had to do something and this is one of the greatest opportunities for me to take care of my family.”
Revved up: “I think my motor is one of my strengths,” Crichton said. “All the coaches have told me I’ve got a great motor. But I’ve got to stay consistent with it. I know I took a play off here or there. I still need to work on that, too.”
Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame, Jr.
In college: Tuitt was named first-team All-Independent after starting 13 games in 2013 and recording 49 tackles (24 solo), nine tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks. He was named second-team All-American in 2012 after recording 47 tackles (24 solo), 13 tackles for loss and 12 sacks (second-most in a single season in school history). He played in nine games as a freshman in 2011 and recorded 30 tackles (11 solo), three tackles for loss and two sacks. Tuitt finished his career with 21.5 sacks, which is tied for third in school history.
On playing on the same defensive line with Louis Nix: “It’s been a great pleasure playing next to him. He taught me many things. A great leader. A tough, nitty-gritty nose tackle as well. I expect big things from him in the NFL. He did a lot of things, helped us out a lot, especially with double teams. He’s a great guy.”
On playing multiple spots: “I’m very versatile. I can play every position on the defensive line,” Tuitt said. “We ran the 3-4 defense at Notre Dame, but we had the 4-3 as well. I was versatile at every position. It was like 50-50 (3-4, 4-3).”