The Michigan Wolverines are sending enough defensive backs to the draft this year to field an entire secondary. But while Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers seem like locks to make an NFL squad, a lot of uncertainty surrounds the other cornerbacks and safeties; none, more so, than Jeremy Clark.
Clark possesses two irreplaceable qualities in a football star – size and speed. At 6-3, 220 lbs., he runs a sub-4.5 40. That is, he did when he was healthy.
Clark was off to an impressive redshirt senior season when he tore an ACL against Penn State in September 2016 (in the three games prior, he had 10 tackles and two passes defended). Because he had redshirted once already, the NCAA denied him a sixth year at Michigan. It has been on Clark to impress NFL scouts while in the thick of his rehab.
Clark is a bit of a monster by defensive back standards. Though he didn’t take the field at the NFL combine, he did bench 220-lbs. 20 times, third among cornerbacks (by comparison, teammates Lewis knocked out 15 reps while Channing Stribling put up a woeful 5). Throw in his long arms (32 7/8 inches) and big hands (9 3/8 inches), and the thought of this athletic big man on the corners would normally make NFL scouts salivate.
Despite his injury, NFL teams have taken notice. By all reports, his recovery is on schedule and he’s impressed in his interactions with NFL personnel. And fleet-footed, 220-lb. defensive backs don’t come around every day. But will teams spend a late-round draft pick on him?
At minimum, Clark could be a special teams asset to most NFL squads. A capable tackler, he wraps up well and brings plenty of speed to his hits. Should he return to full form, he could prove a strong bump-and-run corner or even a safety for a team lacking depth in its secondary.
Though he offered little to work with to NFL combine and Michigan Pro Day observers, Clark is still the dynamic type of player that teams would rather lock down than leave to the open market. Assuming he fully recovers, he might evolve into breakout corner in the NFL, a bargain if taken in the late rounds. I anticipate at least one team will roll the dice come draft day.