Saturday, March 28, 2015

2015 NFL Draft #52 - Frank Clark, DE, Michigan

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.
Find all the profiles here.
Frank Clark, DE, Michigan - 6'3, 271 - Junior - 4.79 40
Michigan defensive end Frank Clark is seen before the first half of an NCAA college football game against Utah in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014.  (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Michigan defensive end Frank Clark is seen before the first half of an NCAA college football game against Utah in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
There are players in every draft that are stories that can often take on a life of their own.  That is because they are stories that involve things that have nothing to do with football and often times the legal problems that have taken over the lives of some of these prospects.  As I have said a number of times, I have no desire to marginalize these offenses and the type of human beings some of these prospects are, but that is not really what this study is all about.  I am not able to investigate their stories thoroughly and a google search is not the basis for quality reporting, anyway.  All we can do here is study their on-field abilities and how they could help their team as football player.  What kind of man they are and whether or not you would like them to be part of their organization is the type of investigative work any team needs to do when there are that many red flags around somebody like Frank Clark.  If you wish to catch up on what I am talking about, you should read this story from last fall when he was dismissed from the Michigan team for a domestic violence arrest situation.
That said, we know he fits the player profile for Dallas and many other organizations, so we attempted to size up his work by looking at the Northwestern, Notre Dame, and UConn (2013) games.
What I liked:  He is a high energy edge rusher who has caused a lot of havoc in the offensive backfield over the years and has a real interesting combination of skills.  On one hand, he has one of the best bull rushes for a man in his weight class that you will see.  He really doesn't have many pass moves, but you see him routinely get both hands inside the shoulders of tackles and jack them right back into their QB pretty often (See above).  But, then, he also has absurd quickness for a man his size and a few times goes around the tackle completely and circles to make a tackle.  He also can play with his hand in the dirt and then play as a stand-up linebacker and actually chase in pass coverage with reasonably capable hips.  He is a very impressive athlete that looks like a fluid player of 250 pounds, even though he is over 270.  He also plays with very good energy and motor.    His hands are quite active on his pass rush and with his very long arms, he deflects more than his share of passes.

What I did not like:  The biggest question I have when watching him play is where his production was overall.  If he has this many skills and talents, why are his sack totals never above 5 in a season in 4 years at Michigan?  Clearly, I am watching the games where he is getting his production because he seems like a dominant player in spurts, but did not achieve dominance very often given a 4.5 and 5 sack season in the last 2 years.  9.5 sacks in 23 games is just not extraordinary.  Beyond that, it will be interesting if teams see him as a LB or a DE.  If he is a DE, then, he will need to continue to work on anchoring against run plays right at him.  But, he is a very impressive player for sure.
Summary:  Frank Clark is a real interesting study.  Without the elephant in the room, he is going in the Top 2 rounds for sure.  With the elephant in the room, he may not get drafted at all.  It is not something I want to cover at great length, but it is worth suggesting the news cycle of adding Greg Hardy and Frank Clark in a one-month or so span would be too much for the area to handle.  That said, he would fit the profile perfectly for the type of player that Rod Marinelli is seeking and has some arguing on his behalf at Valley Ranch in the front office - an active, athletic, versatile, and disruptive player who can be another difficult assignment to block as you attempt to collapse the pocket.  He is a very rare athlete who can vertically leap 38.5" despite being a defensive linemen, and with his motor and his bullrush strength, some team is going to be willing to deal with the media uproar to get a piece that might really come at a bargain due to the baggage.
And, if you don't mind, please check out the Bob and Dan (BaD) Radio show in Dallas-Fort Worth, from 12p-3p, Monday-Friday, on Sportsradio 1310 and 96.7fm, The Ticket. 

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