Dee Ford acquainted himself with more than just the casual football fan in February at the NFL's scouting combine in Indianapolis. There, in a national radio interview, Ford famously (or infamously, as the case might be) said he was a better player than Jadeveon Clowney.
But his confidence is one of the things that attracted the Chiefs to Ford, an outside linebacker from Auburn. Given the chance recently after he was selected by the Chiefs, Ford didn't back down from his statement.
"Obviously, I thought I was better," Ford said. "It was nothing personal toward him. We have a great relationship. But I do think I am the best in this draft, the best pass rusher in this draft. That just comes aalong with the game itself. I like to play confident. That's where it starts. Every athlete has a right to think that about himself, especially when you put in a lot of work with what you do."
Ford may measure himself against Clowney as their careers progress. In 2014, Ford may not get as many pass-rush chances as Clowney. He may not be a regular in their base defense in 2014. The Chiefs already have Pro Bowlers and productive pass rushers ahead of him at outside linebacker in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.
The Chiefs plan to find a way to get Ford involved, along with Hali and Houston, on obvious passing downs. That's where Ford needs to come through.
Of course, he's already planning on that.
"It's one thing to have a lot of sacks," Ford said. "It's [another] thing to have efficient sacks. Anybody can go out and have 10, 12 sacks. But when your team really needs you to end the game or end the drive and you have those sacks, those are very vital to your team. I want to always have productive, efficient sacks. That's my mindset going into a game when it's close."
Ford does seem to have the knack in big situations. He brought down Johnny Manziel twice on Texas A&M's final possession in a game last season and his 22-yard sack on a fourth-down play sealed Auburn's 45-41 victory.
"We needed to end the game and I was able to get to him twice," Ford said. "There's something about my mindset. I just get very intense and I get very focused naturally. I love the moment. I love the adrenaline. That's what you work for, those big moments."
If Ford can deliver in those situations alone for the Chiefs next season, his rookie season will be a success. That's regardless of what Clowney does or doesn't do.