Dimitroff, Smith feel Clowney's passion

April, 28, 2014
Apr 28
9:45
PM ET
Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith expressed no concern about top prospect Jadeveon Clowney's motivation as the team prepares for next week's NFL draft.

There has been talk of the Falcons possibly trading up from the sixth overall spot to as high as No. 1 overall with the Houston Texans to draft Clowney, although Dimitroff, of course, did not address such speculation.

Dimitroff did, however, give his impressions of Clowney after spending extensive time with the defensive end last week at the Falcons facility and on the University of South Carolina campus.

"Jadeveon Clowney, he's obviously a top-notch talent," Dimitroff told ESPN.com during a charity event Monday night. "He's a fun, upbeat player with a lot of passion for the game. We got a chance to spend a lot of good time with him, not only in our building but at South Carolina. He continues to impress us as an individual."

During the NFL combine in February, Clowney expressed a desire to have the Falcons trade up for him. At the same venue, Dimitroff talked about wanting to know more about Clowney the person.

Now he knows.

"There's no pretense with this kid," Dimitroff said. "He's about football. He's passionate. He's a light-hearted guy with an element of levity that we all appreciated. He's 21 years old, man. He's still growing and still learning. It's fun to see how excited he is about the rest of his career in professional football."

Smith echoed Dimitroff's sentiments.

"I think he's an outstanding football player," Smith said of Clowney. "That's the consensus across the board. He's got a great skill set in terms of what his abilities are as a lineman/defensive end. I feel like he's one of the top guys in the draft.

"I think that he's passionate about the game of football, and that's probably the most important thing when you're looking at a draft-eligible player. The tape is his DNA. But when you get a chance to sit down and talk with him, you know that he's passionate about playing the game."

Dimitroff previously expressed his openness to trading up in the draft, although the Falcons could stay pat and still corral an impact player at No. 6. Securing a pass-rusher or offensive tackle appears to be the direction the Falcons are headed.

Monday marked the three-year anniversary of the Falcons' last blockbuster deal, when Dimitroff traded five picks to the Cleveland Browns on draft day to move up from 27th overall to sixth to select game-changing receiver Julio Jones.

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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