Friday, November 27, 2009

John Clay to the NFL?

Last week the Journal Sentinel had a story about UW coaches seeking input about John Clay's NFL draft stock. It was an appropriate story to write: Clay is in line to be the Big Ten's offensive MVP, and as a third-year player he is eligible to enter the draft.

John has to look into it -- it's his professional vocation on the line -- but my sense is that he's best served waiting another year or even two. From my living room floor, here's how he stacks up.

Pros: Great size, lean, decent medium-range speed, pad level, nose for the end zone

Cons: Lack of breakaway speed (Fresno TD run notwithstanding), receiving ability (no chance to showcase yet), physical style has led to some injuries, ball security -- early in the year, and late in the loss to Northwestern

Without looking at all the other potential draftees among running backs, Clay seems like a third round pick at best, fifth or sixth round pick at worst. He's probably better than P.J. Hill was a year ago at this time, but not by a mile.

If Clay left, a Montee Ball-Zach Brown combo wouldn't be terrible going into next year. But a Clay-Ball-Brown rotation would be nasty and the driving force for what could be a huge 2010 for us.


Mark B said...

Questions about NFL level breakaway speed, receiving ability and BALL SECURITY? I think every NFL team is going to compare John Clay to Ron Dayne and this alone should keep Clay at the UW for now.

Ryan Boldt said...

I think his pad level might be a con not a pro. I think his pad-level tends to be too high. I feel he gets stood up too often and can get bent over backwards, like in the Gopher game where I thought he got his knee ripped off, he was very fortune not to have a season ending injury there.

I love your blog by the way.

Scott Tappa said...

Ryan - Good point about his pad level. I'd argue that it's good because he moves piles and tends to get 3-4 more yards after many backs would be down, and you don't do that standing up straight. In my mind his problems stem from trying to hurdle tacklers or blocked defenders. It shows his athleticism, but it also exposes him and the ball, as it did against Northwestern.

Thanks for the compliment and thanks for reading!

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