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NFL

Players glad long wait for NFL Draft is over

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 9:18 p.m.
South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney (right) and Clemson's Sammy Watkins teach tackling technique during an NFL Play 60 event Wednesday in advance of Thursday's NFL Draft.

NEW YORK — Jadeveon Clowney just wants it to be over.

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.

The Houston Texans have the first pick, and Clowney could be their guy. 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 usually is held in April, but scheduling conflicts at Radio City Music Hall caused the NFL to push it back. Commissioner Roger Goodell said it's too soon to say whether May drafts are here to stay.

This year's draft finally gets underway 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 likely will be more intrigue than usual. Missouri linebacker Michael Sam, who made public in February that he is gay, is projected to be a possible late-round selection.

But first, the Texans are on the clock. Will they take Clowney?

“Man, I don't know,” he said. “Do you know?”

At the combine and his pro day workout at South Carolina, Clowney wowed scouts with the speed and agility of a running back and placed himself firmly at the top of just about every mock draft.

Still, it's not a foregone conclusion the Texans will take him.

Houston needs a quarterback, and new coach Bill O'Brien 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.

“I don't care if I'm No. 1 or 200. I just want to play,” Manziel said.

Then there's Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who many figured would challenge to be the No. 1 overall pick. He apparently slipped out of favor during the postseason draft process.

“You try not to pay attention to what's being said, but at the end of the day, I'm human,” Bridgewater said. “I was off Twitter for a while because, you know, that's probably the easiest way to see what's being said about you.”

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