Don’t Write Off T.J. Clemmings Just Yet

After it was recently reported that Pittsburgh offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings has a calcified fracture in his foot, MHH Analyst Jake Marsing examines whether he's till worth a firs round flyer.

With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, teams are beginning to pontificate and postulate about prospects and their pro potential. It’s an annual exercise in deception as general managers try to misdirect their counterparts by praising players they have no intention of selecting, and putting out falsehoods about those they want. University of Pittsburgh tackle T.J. Clemmings is the latest incoming rookie to fall victim to the league’s misguided method of mendacity.

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Clemmings is a raw, but uber-athletic prospect at right tackle, whom many believe will be looked at as the best offensive lineman to come out of this class five years from now. The Denver Broncos had him in for a visit last month, and by all indications, he’s a player John Elway and company have been interested in for some time. His quick feet and exquisite range make him an excellent fit in Gary Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme.

However, as it happens with many players this time of year, Clemmings has fallen down draft boards in the last week, primarily because of an injury concern. Clemmings was diagnosed with a calcified stress fracture in his foot during the NFL Scouting Combine. News about the injury sent a buzz throughout the NFL media, causing him to fall into the second round on several public draft boards.

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Yet, the injury hasn’t caused him any pain, and won’t impact his performance. In fact, Clemmings didn’t know the injury even existed until it was diagnosed during his Combine physical. Scout.com’s NFL Draft expert Dave De-Thomas, a guy plugged in to every front office in the NFL, confirmed this during a Monday fan.

“I think it is classic team-speak, in other words, get out bad medicals, make it look big and see if some GM gets scared.”

The question now is whether John Elway will get scared. Many teams may feign concern over injury to justify passing on a player they have other concerns about. Elway’s done this in the past, selecting running back Montee Ball in the second round of the 2013 draft over Eddie Lacy because of what the team said were concerns over an injured toe.

In reality, the Broncos had concerns about the long-term viability of Lacy’s fierce running style, and valued him at essentially the same level they did Ball. Lacy’s toe injury gave them an out.

The Broncos shouldn’t concern themselves with outs when it comes to T.J. Clemmings. While his hand placement needs improvement, and he’s relatively inexperienced at the position, Clemmings projects as an elite offensive lineman. He will be available when Denver makes their selection this Thursday, and if the Broncos know what’s good for them, he’ll report to Dove Valley soon after.

Jake Marsing is an Analyst for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @JakeDMarsing. And be sure to like MileHighHuddle on Facebook.

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