Bengals draft Illini safety Clayton Fejedelem

Former Illini, walk-on Clayton Fejedelem drafted by Bengals in the seventh round

Clayton Fejedelem: Drafted

Round 7, Pick 245 overall

Team: Cincinnati Bengals

Bio Info

6-foot-1, 205 pounds

4.53 40 yard dash

7.17 three-cone drill

20 reps bench press

40.5-inch vertical jump

Illinois career

After helping lead NAIA program St. Xavier to a national championship, Fejedelem transferred to Illinois in 2013 as a walk-on. The tough, athletic safety quickly rose up the depth chart, playing a reserve role at safety and a huge role on special teams.

As a senior, Fejedelem was voted a team captain and led the Big Ten and ranked fifth in in the nation in tackles per game (11.7), including 12.8 per game during Big Ten play. Fejedelem’s 140 tackles twere the most for an Illini in a season since All-American linebacker J Leman had 152 in 2006, earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors and the team's Outstanding Defensive Player award. He also had two interceptions, 4.5 TFLs, seven PBUs and a forced fumble on the season season.

Fejedelem excelled as an in-the-box safety in Illinois' cover-4 scheme. He's a big hitter and sure tackler in space. He has a ripped physique and plus speed and leaping ability. But he struggles in pass coverage. He's susceptible to biting on play-action fakes and despite his straightline speed, he's a bit stiff in the hips.

Fejdelem could be a special teams stud for the next five to 10 years. The big question is whether he can play safety. He may need the right defensive scheme to succeed in the secondary against a pass-happy NFL.

Expert breakdown: "Very tough with the mindset teams are looking for from box safeties. Unfortunately, box safeties are being replaced by safeties with better cover talent and athleticism and that may be an issue for Fejedelem. He will need to ball out as a special-teamer and find a fit with a team who still employs box workers at safety." - Nolan Nawrocki, NFL Draft 2016 Preview

Illini Inquirer Top Stories