Rams combine countdown: No. 5

February, 17, 2014
Feb 17
4:30
PM ET
The workout portion of the NFL scouting combine begins on Feb. 22 with the entire football world closely watching every prospect's every move. With that in mind, we're counting down the top five things the Rams and their fans should be watching as the NFL converges on Indianapolis.

Like every team, the Rams will spend much of the week interviewing -- formally or informally -- every prospect in Indianapolis. Plenty of players will draw attention during the combine for various reasons, but one of the most watched will be South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

For the Rams, we've already discussed the pros and cons of selecting Clowney, but this week brings this important question: Can Clowney use the big stage to quiet many of the questions about his work ethic and establish himself as the best player in the draft?

Clowney has already made it clear that he intends to do everything at the combine, including the physical testing. That, despite the fact that he's dealing with a foot injury, will be one of the most-watched spectacles of combine week. Defensive linemen are scheduled to go through their workouts a week from today.

Not only does Clowney intend to do the workouts but he expects to put on a show with his opportunity. He's made it clear he plans on going to Houston with the No. 1 pick in the draft and has proclaimed that he's run the 40-yard dash in the 4.4-second range in his training. For a bit of perspective, Rams defensive end Robert Quinn registered a 4.62 40 in 2011. He also has said he'd like to bench-press 225 pounds 25 times. Both of those numbers would be incredibly impressive for a 6-foot-6, 275-pound defensive end.

While those numbers may be difficult to reach, Clowney is expected to hit all the right notes when it comes to his measurables. But the importance of combine week will go well beyond what happens on the turf of Lucas Oil Stadium.

A disappointing junior season performance left many questions about Clowney's work ethic and desire to be great. Clowney himself has acknowledged that he will have to answer those questions for teams this week. He even went so far as going to Mobile, Ala., in January to start the process of establishing transparency with teams and media.

Beyond the interviews with teams and the on-field workouts, perhaps the most important part of the combine is gathering medical information. Clowney has said his foot injury isn't too serious but there's no doubt he will be poked and prodded to ensure he's sound physically.

Should the Rams stay at No. 2 with their pick acquired from Washington, Clowney is a name that will certainly be in play if Houston opts for a quarterback. The Rams are well-stocked at defensive end but if Clowney can put on the show that many expect and offer satisfactory answers about his so-called "football character," he could potentially separate himself from the rest of the field and make passing on him an extremely difficult proposition.

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

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