AnalysisWalford wowed coaches at the Senior Bowl with his effort and performance. Still, he’s viewed at the No. 2 tight end prospect in this draft class. He gained a lot of experience in Coral Gables, starting in the 35 of 49 games he played in. Walford caught one pass in 43 straight games and finished with 121 receptions for 1,753 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has good size (6-4/251) and runs well enough. Walford’s best asset are his soft hands. He catches the ball well and doesn’t fight it. Walford is a good, not great blocker.
Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation
Report from NFL Scouting Services' Dave-Te' Thomas:
The best way to describe Clive Walford is to compare him to my wife’s baking skills – he’s one “tough cookie.” How tough might you ask? Well, just look at how the scouts “wrote off” seeing the Hurricanes tight end until 2015 training camp, only to see him emerge as one of the more dominating performers during the week-long practices leading up to the prestigious 2015 Senior Bowl.
Walford was having a tremendous senior season, so much so that he emerged from being a slight consideration to becoming a finalist for the coveted Mackey Award, which is given annually to the top tight end in college football. He established school position records for receptions, receiving yardage and touchdown catches, but in the team’s eleventh game on the 2014 schedule, he was injured vs. Pittsburgh, costing him an opportunity to play vs. South Carolina in the Independence Bowl.
You can imagine the surprise by NFL staff when Walford arrived in Mobile, Alabama to partake in the Senior Bowl practices. As soon as he stepped on the field, all eyes were glued to the practice field. Walford could not be stopped – whoever the Jacksonville Jaguars coaches assigned to cover him during scrimmages, no one had any success in covering him.
Just less than two months from surgery, there he was running precise routes, attacking the seam with explosive acceleration and using his body to shield the ball, consistently creating mismatches vs. second level defenders. As far as concerns about his knee – he showed that he still had that explosive burst to get into his route, building up his speed to get into his routes in an instant.
Walford shows functional quickness off the line of scrimmage and the ability to gain advantage on the defender with his burst off the line. He uses his hands effectively to escape the hold up and shows crispness and balance in and out of his breaks. He displays good body control to break down and make the quick cut. He also works back to the quarterback well and has a knack for finding the ball and making the tough catch in a crowd.
The Hurricane possesses soft, natural hands with the ability to extend, pluck, snatch and secure away from the body’s frame. He is able to find the open seam on intermediate rounds and is very good at tracking the ball, along with demonstrating the flexibility to get to off-target tosses. He might show adequate timed running speed, but has more than enough strength to break tackles after initial contact.
Walford will surge off the line of scrimmage and make contact, generating good pop and explosion as an in-line blocker. He has the ability to climb to the second level and make the cut-off block and is also effective at hitting moving targets. That athleticism has led to him setting school position records, finishing his career with 121 receptions for 1,753 yards (14.49 ypc) and fourteen touchdowns.
The 2015 Senior Bowl practices turned out to be the “proving ground” for Walford. Daily reports from scouts gave all team decision makers the impression that the Hurricane was rapidly separating himself from the rest of the senior tight ends in attendance – in a very big way. It was during one-on-one drills vs. the South team’s linebackers and safeties that the tight end made exceptional catches down the seam, easily getting behind the cushion to get under the deep throws.
Even when the struggling quarterbacks overthrew, Walford could be seen regularly going up to reach the ball at its high point or simply dive to make the shoestring-like grabs. He also showed that he was a bit of a contortionist, spinning and twisting his frame to get to the throws behind him, bringing down a pair of throws for touchdowns during the third day of practices.
Clive Walford NFL Scouting Combine measurables
6-4/251 (4.79 forty)
34-inch arm length
10 1/4-inch hands
35-inch vertical jump
120-inch broad jump
4.57 20 yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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