Clemons moves up draft boards

CLEMSON — Somewhat quietly, Chris Clemons has made a name for himself since playing in his last game for the Tigers on Jan. 1.

In fact, quietly would be an understatement.

During his five years at Clemson, the 6-foot, 208-pound safety was seldom requested for interviews by the media because he really never had much to say.

"If Chris doesn't know you, he isn't going to say much to you," said former Clemson strong safety Michael Hamlin, who like his best friend is expected to be drafted in this weekend's NFL Draft. "That's just the way he is. He's a laid back kind of guy."

There's nothing laid back about Clemons' ability as a football player. The Arcadia, Fla., native was one of the Tigers' best coverage players the last two seasons, and his knack for delivering the big hit became his trademark.

He finished his Clemson career with 323 tackles, including 203 solos, while also intercepting five passes with 20 passes broken up.

"He is an interesting player," said Chris Steuber,'s NFL Draft Analyst. "He is a guy that is in that third- and fourth-round range."

Like his demeanor, Clemons seemed quiet as a player sometimes because he was somewhat overshadowed by Hamlin, an All-ACC safety. While Hamlin was making one of his 326 tackles or recording one of his 14 career interceptions, Clemons was just doing his job, and was doing it perhaps better than anyone that played his position in the ACC.

In fact he was one of the main reasons why the Tigers finished in the top 20 in pass efficiency defense in each of the last four seasons.

"I had heard some good things about Chris. I know he is a good player," Steuber said. "His 40 time at the combine was shocking to me. He ran a 4.33 at the combine."

But will Clemons' quiet nature hurt his draft status?

"The interview process for a team is always important. Teams always want to see what a player is all about with his leadership and the way they talk with the coaches," Steuber said. "That's all great stuff."

But it's not the most important stuff.

Clemons' production over the last four seasons, especially the last two, along with his speed has caught scouts' attention. They like that he has adequate game speed to be the last line of defense.

They also like the angles he takes in pursuit as well as his ability to breakdown quarterbacks and break towards the ball. A good open field tackler, Clemons has the lateral quickness and enough balance to make up ground in space to wrap up receivers and running backs.

Scouts also like the fact that he has never missed a game because of injury.

"That's always important," Steuber said. "He probably needs to put on some weight, but he is a good tackler. I think he lacks that explosion here and there. But overall, I think he has good feet and is a good playmaker and I think he will be a very good player."

The question is where is Clemons going to go in this weekend's draft?

Steuber has him as the No. 12 safety on the board and possibly going in the third- or fourth-round. Some scouts believe he could be an early second-day pick.

The Browns, Raiders, Cowboys and the Saints all have a need at safety, but Cleveland and Oakland is looking for more of a strong safety, though the Raiders could still take Clemons if he is still available in the mid-rounds.

The Cowboys could also be a spot for the former Clemson player. Dallas signed former Jacksonville safety Gerald Sensabaugh so they don't have to take a safety early in the draft, but given the lack of depth the team has with no one behind Sensabaugh or free safety Ken Hamlin, then Clemons would be a nice pickup for the Cowboys and could probably make an immediate impact.

The most logical stop for Clemons, however, is in "The Big Easy."

New Orleans is shopping for a free safety after it failed to pick up Sensabaugh. Though they signed veterans Darren Sharper and Pierson Prioleau to one-year deals, the Saints will more than likely take Clemons if he is available with one of their two fourth-round picks.

Whatever happens, odds are Clemons will more than likely go quietly in the draft. Top Stories