SAN FRANCISCO - FILE: Nate Clements #22 of the San Francisco 49ers intercepts a ball in the endzone against the Seattle Seahawks during an NFL game at Candlestick Park on December 12, 2010 in San Francisco, California. According to reports on July 30, 2011 Clements will sign a contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Strengths: Nate Clements is an 11-year vet who will bring a physical style of play to the Bengals secondary. Clements is a tremendous tackler and he isn't afraid to throw his body around. Clements hits like a safety and forces fumbles regularly. He has good size and strength for a CB (6'0" 205 lbs). Clements is at his best when he can play off-man coverage and come up to make the tackle or when he slides inside in nickel defense and covers the slot WR. Clements is a smart player and should provide veteran leadership among the CBs.
In this play, you see Nate Clements covering the slot WR (slot, top of screen). He gets a good jam and rubs the WR into the sideline and away from the play. Clements then does an excellent job at turning his head and locating the ball to make a play on it.
Weaknesses: At this age, Nate Clements isn't as fast as he used to be. So you have to watch for the deep ball and double moves. If Clements bites on a play, it's hard for him to recover and catch up to the WR. He can also have plays that look like he wasn't fully concentrated or aware of the situation. Those plays are few and far between, but they should be expected. Clements ball skills aren't the greatest. His hands are just OK but he can break up passes.
In this play, Nate Clements is covering a very good WR in Greg Jennings (bottom of screen). It appears to be man coverage with a single high safety. The Bengals employ this same coverage frequently. Greg Jennings runs a double move (corner-post), and gains separation from Clements. While Nate doesn't bite hard on the fake, He still has to respect it and slow down. This was all Jennings needed to get deep. Clements makes the tackle before Jennings can gain any yardage after the catch.
Overall Impression: Obviously the Clements signing was an attempt to ease the pain of losing Johnathan Joseph, but this is actually a good signing. The Bengals will have to change some things they've been doing in coverage over the past few seasons. Clements never had the speed Joseph has, so instead of shading the safety to Leon Halls' side, they may slide a safety towards Clements. As a result, Leon Hall needs to step his game up and cover the deep ball better. I like this signing because Clements can stop the bleeding at CB and also make a transition to safety one day (if he stays in Cincinnati). He has similar skills to Charles Woodson and I would like to see him in that role. I also like that Clements can play the nickel CB role. This allows Hall and Adam Jones to play outside where they're at their best.
Terms of Deal: 2-years for $10.5 million ($6 million guaranteed)
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