- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Jadeveon Clowney believes he’s the NFL’s No. 1 draft pick and says he took a big step toward that goal during South Carolina’s pro day workouts Wednesday.

The 6-foot-5, 266-pound defensive end did position drills in front of dozens of NFL personnel, including Houston head coach Bill O'Brien and Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley. And Clowney thinks he elevated his already elite status during the 40 minutes or so of running through cones, jumping over hurdles and catching tennis balls in workouts he passed on at the NFL combine in February.

“Yes, I do feel like I should be the first pick,” Clowney said after the session.

Clowney did not lift weights or run the 40-yard dash, standing on his combine showings when he did 21 reps at 225 pounds and clocked a 4.53-second time.

He also felt he eased anyone’s concerns about his work ethic. He was considered by many the No. 1 pick after his sophomore season in 2012, when he had 13 sacks and closed it with his helmet-jarring hit on Michigan’s Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl.

The footage of the hit was seemingly shown daily on highlight shows and Clowney immediately became a Heisman Trophy favorite, analysts projecting record-setting sack numbers.

But Clowney couldn’t live up to the expectations as injuries and opponent’s schemed him out of plays. He finished with a disappointing three sacks.

A midseason tiff with coach Steve Spurrier - Clowney pulled himself out of the Kentucky game with a rib muscle strain without following proper protocol - intensified questions about Clowney’s work habits and going hard every play.

“I think my work ethic is pretty good. I think I proved that today, but I’ve still got a lot of proving to do,” he said.

There were 30 of 32 NFL teams represented with Tennessee and Cleveland opting to pass on South Carolina’s pro day.

Clowney spent Tuesday night at dinner with the Texans, including O'Brien, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and general manager Rick Smith. Clowney thought the visit went well and he answered their questions about what he’d bring to the Texans if they took him with the top selection in May’s draft.

Houston’s leaders liked what they saw of Clowney on the field.

“I thought he had a good day. He worked hard and did a bunch of different drills, which was good to see,” said O'Brien, the Texans’ first-year coach.

Smith was happy to see Clowney move easily in space should the Texans draft him and use him at outside linebacker spot. Clowney’s got a quick first step that lets him fly past offensive lineman, but he’s also got sustained speed that allows him to chase down opponents other defensive lineman can’t.

“He could absolutely play outside linebacker for us,” Smith said.

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