Draft Day Target: RB Maurice Clarett

Today, we take a look at one of the more controversial players available in the upcoming NFL Draft in Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett. For the Cowboys, he's certainly worth a hard look in the second round.

RB Maurice Clarett
6-0, 235, 4.6
Ohio State University
Projected Draft Position: 2nd Round

Maurice Clarett.

The name itself creates a stir amongst football enthusiasts around the country.

The former Ohio State Buckeye who helped lead his team to the 2002 National Championship, has been the center of quite a controversy since he challenged the NFL to throw out its restriction against players who are less than three years removed from high school from entering the NFL Draft.

Like it or not, Clarett won his battle in the U.S. District Court in New York and is now eligible to be drafted this April by any team willing to take a chance on him.

Undoubtedly, Clarett represents the ultimate wild card at running back.

He's only played one year of college football and he was suspended for his sophomore campaign for "accepting thousands of dollars in improper benefits and lying to NCAA and school investigators."

Maurice Clarett broke Ohio State's freshman rushing records in 2002 with 1,237 yards and 18 touchdowns.
In all, he was guilty of 14 violations of the ethical-conduct bylaw and two violations of receiving preferential treatment or benefits because he is an athlete.

So how does that translate in the NFL?

Depends on whom you ask I suppose.

Clarett has the skills, most won't argue that. He rushed for almost 1,300 yards and 18 touchdowns as a true freshman and was the primary reason the Buckeyes captured the 2002 National Title.

On the field, Clarett combines the perfect combination of speed and power. He also has outstanding size and appears to be physically superior to other running backs in his would be sophomore class.

On the other hand, there are a multitude of questions concerning his character.

Everything from academic improprieties to lying about items supposedly stolen from car last summer, to being involved with an online bookmaker. The list is endless and certainly raises eyebrows among NFL scouts.

For the Cowboys however, Clarett could be back worth taking a chance on in the second round.

Surely, he ranks below the top three backs on the board that we've discussed here on SilverStarDigest for the last two months. Greg Jones, Steven Jackson, and Kevin Jones all headline the current running back wish list, should that be the direction the Cowboys go in one of the first two rounds in April.

However, all three of those prospects could easily be gone by the time the Cowboys go on the clock with their 2nd round selection.

That leaves Clarett one of the clear front-runners in the "second tier" of running backs on the board.

Most draft experts suggest that Clarett is a clear second or third round selection, but could indeed have first round talent.

He's obviously performed at a very high level on one of the biggest national stages in the country in Columbus, Ohio, and even despite his off the field problems he's viewed as one of the most talented athletes available in the offensive backfield this year.

He's a back that seems to get better as the game wears on, and he has the bulk to handle the pounding of a 16-game regular season. In addition, rumors have already been circulating that Parcells likes his overall ability and size.

Does that mean the Cowboys would take a chance on him in the second round? Perhaps, but it almost goes without saying that if he's still available in the 3rd round, he may be too good to pass up.

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