There has been much consternation about the Seahawks 2nd round draft pick Frank Clark (DE Michigan) and rightly so. The reports of Clark beating up a woman, an accusation that would have him removed from his senior year at Michigan, are very disturbing and unacceptable. Conflicting eyewitness accounts and lack of cooperation from the victim resulted in charges being dropped.
While this issue dominates most conversations, what Clark is between the lines and how does he help the team?
Frank Clark is a 6’3”, 271lb who runs a 4.64 40 yard dash. At the NFL Combine (defensive end position), Clark had the highest marks in the high jump (38.5 inches), 3 cone drill, 20 yard shuttle, and 60 yard shuttle.
These are quite easily 1st round metrics that one would expect from a highly-touted player. The size allows him to be a defensive tackle on 3rd and long plays and a defensive end on standard downs. His speed could also see him fill in as a Leo (combo defensive end + linebacker) or even a strong side linebacker.
As an edge rusher, Clark was graded as the 5th-7th best at the position, by many publications. His true value may be in his freak athleticism allowing him to play multiple positions similar to Micheal Bennett. A quick look at the tape from a 2013 game against University of Connecticut, we see Clark at right end, left end, and 3 technique tackle on passing downs.
This versatility will allow him to be the primary backup for DE Cliff Avril, DT Michael Bennett, and LB Bruce Irvin. Conceptually, Clark would learn from these men and as they leave via free agency or get injured,
Clark has the intangibles as well; Frank has displayed in his 3 seasons at Michigan that he has an instinct for the ball and can break down plays, rarely getting fooled. He is a high-motor individual who generates power and speed from his frenetic level of play.
Frank Clark’s biggest weakness is the outside-the-lines aspect of his life. Other weaknesses include his footwork, his tweener size (big for a linebacker, small for a defensive lineman), and tendency to bull rush opponents.
As far as between the lines, the footwork and learning finesse moves are teachable. And for head coach Pete Carroll, the unique combo of size and speed are what have made his defenses so prominent leading to two consecutive Super Bowl.
Frank Clark’s biggest enemy is himself. Get past all the off-the-field shenanigans and I rate him as the next Michael Bennett. A versatile Pro-Bowl level defensive lineman who has more value in a Pete Carroll style defense over a conventional defense.
I expect a 5-10 year career in Seattle anchoring the line perhaps not as “the playmaker” but a stalwart who works well in concert with other talent.