As the 2017 NFL Draft, kicked off, the Philadelphia Eagles had a list of holes that needed to be addressed. From multiple cornerbacks, to bolstering the trenches and adding some explosiveness on the edge, the team still needed some extra fuel on the offensive side of the ball. The Eagles drafted two wideouts in the heart of the Draft..but it was the running back pick later that has caused some interesting debates.
The Eagles would address their need of a running back, with the pick of Donnel Pumphrey from San Diego State. Even with the addition of the young playmaker, the Eagles still lacked a big body back that could get the tough yards. This would be the perfect time to “Trust the process”, as the one thing I have learned through covering the Eagles, is Howie always seems to have a “Plan B”.
Enter UDFA Corey Clement, out of the University of Wisconsin. Many were surprised when the young talent went without a team selecting him. Despite Clement having a little bit of an injury issue (Playing Style) and rumors of some character concerns beginning to circulate in the run up to the Draft, Clement’s skill set and style told a very different story.
Considered a bigger back at 5’11, 220 lbs, Clement uses his size well when facing contact around the line of scrimmage. He has a strong base and thick thighs that help with his balance when running off tackle, and has better than average speed to get him to the second level in a hurry.
Considered a 3rd-4th round pick, by most draft analysts, Clement would serve as a sort of anomaly during his collegiate career. All in one game, he would struggle at times to find space and put the ball on the ground at others. But then later on in that same game, he could break for 1oo-plus yards.
His ability to elude blitzing defenders that look to meet him in the backfield, is one of an elite runner. Clement is able to create running lanes while setting up blocks, and even though he doesn’t possess the break away speed that most scouts desire, he creates at the second level and is capable of hitting a homerun from any where. What may be his best attribute, is his ability to find open lanes, and break outside, but doesn’t always look to get out there.
I spoke briefly, to a scout of another “interested” team, in Clement and asked him about his skill set, and why he thought he went Undrafted?
“Clement could be a legit back in this league. He could be a star. He has all the tools and the skill set to succeed at this level, but he could squander it as well. If any of the things are true about his attitude problems, which I haven’t been able to confirm, he could ruin this opportunity. I am personally routing of for him and would like to see where his career goes. Like I said, I think he has all the tools to really be a star, I guess we will see.
As far as why he went without being drafted? I don’t know, I don’t think anyone will have that answer. I personally had him as one of the better prospects, and there were players that got drafted, at the same position that made me sit back, and wonder why? Maybe it was the rumors about him, maybe it was the talent level this year, it really was impressive. Honestly, when you look at some of these players that went undrafted, there are teams that are getting prospects with high draft grades, including the Eagles, with Clement. The whole thing isn’t a science.”
Despite, sharing the backfield with multiple backs this year, he managed to rush for 1,375 yards and 15 touchdowns, so he adds value in the red zone. The addition of Clement hasn’t gotten the same publicity as other backs in this years draft, but it doesn’t mean he isn’t as good. Even without being drafted, Clement is in a great position to contend for a starting role, or at the very least be a real contributor for the Birds. The fact that he is an UDFA may work against him, or maybe it wont. But I do know that when a talent like Clement is doubted, they always seem to rise to the occasion. Hopefully, Clement takes this situation and runs with it (Pun Intended). If he does that, the Eagles will officially have their workhorse.
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports