Jadeveon Clowney's camp is firing back.
James "Bus" Cook, the agent for the South Carolina defender poised to perhaps become the first pick in the NFL Draft, expressed disgust to USA TODAY Sports over recent comments attributed to an anonymous scout that labeled Clowney as "spoiled" and "lazy."
"We don't give any consideration to that," Cook told USA TODAY Sports. "None of that has bothered us. It doesn't bother Jadeveon. That's not something that's been asked of me by any of the teams that I've talked to. Just go watch the tape."
Although Clowney is widely considered to be the most talented player in the draft, Cook believes that it is unfair that the pass-rush specialist has been dogged by questions about his desire and work ethic. Some of the harshest criticism was published earlier this week by NJ.com, which quoted the anonymous scout.
Cook seemed most perturbed that the scout made his assertions while remaining unnamed.
By the same token, the agent has seen this before during the draft process. Innuendo, quotes from anonymous sources and various leaks are often interjected in the run-up before the draft, fueling questions about motives that could include attempts to manipulate a prospect's draft stock.
Three years ago, Cam Newton's dedication was among questions that surfaced before he was selected No. 1 overall by the Carolina Panthers. Cook represents Newton.
Now Clowney, who might be chosen by the Houston Texans in the top slot, has been in range for the type of questions that Cook believes cross the line.
When it comes to raw numbers, though, Clowney's significant drop-off in sacks last season fuel questions. After posting 13 sacks as a sophomore in 2012, Clowney managed just three sacks in 2013.
"At the Senior Bowl, two NFL scouts who have been around for a long time came to me and said, 'Bus, this business about this kid not going all-out is not the case,' " Cook said. "One of them said, 'Please, tell me what games are they referring to?' "
Clowney, 6-6 ½, 275, could not be reached for comment.
In recent weeks, he has been on a whirlwind tour of visits with several NFL teams. Cook said that Clowney was engaged with a team holding a top-10 pick on Tuesday night.
Cook also said that it is possible that Clowney will conduct one more pre-draft workout for an NFL team – contrary to reports he is finished with workouts.
Yet clearly, Cook added, if Clowney does work out for a team it would be an extremely mild workout, given the risk of injury.
At the NFL scouting combine in February, Clowney clocked a sizzling 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash, but also raised eyebrows with an underwhelming 21 reps in the 225-pound bench press.
"He may do one more thing, for one team, maybe a five-minute workout," Cook said. "It doesn't make sense to do more than that, given the fact of what happened to the Clemson kid (offensive lineman Brandon Thomas, who suffered a torn ACL). If they weren't at the pro day or combine, where are they?
"Just say there will be no heavy lifting," Cook added. "Nothing that will risk injury."