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Could Corey Clement badger the Bengals into drafting him?

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The Bengals have been keeping tabs on Clement and attended his pro day this month. Could he be headed to Cincinnati after April’s draft?

81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Western Michigan v Wisconsin Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

In his senior year at Wisconsin, Corey Clement emerged as the Badgers’ starting running back, the most recent in a line of productive college running backs including Melvin Gordon, James White, Montee Ball, Brian Calhoun, Michael Bennett and Ron Dayne. Playing behind the Badgers’ usually dominant offensive line, he produced 1,375 rushing yards, and averaged 4.4 yards per carry in 2016.

It should be pointed out that he was supposed to be Wisconsin’s starting running back as a junior in 2015 before a sports hernia derailed his season. It also didn’t help that he broke his hand punching somebody in an elevator. He does come with an injury history - even if some of that was self-induced.

School: Wisconsin

Position: Running back

Height: 5'10"

Weight: 220 pounds

Arm length: 30 1/2"

Hands: 9 3/4"

40-yard dash: 4.68 seconds

Bench press: 19 reps

Vert jump: 28.5"

Broad jump: 115"

So with all of this in mind, let’s take a look at Clement’s game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 2016 and see what he has to offer, should the Bengals deem him worthy of a draft pick in April’s draft. This was a mid-season game in which Clement totaled 82 yards on 19 rushing attempts and had a 4.3 yard per carry average, boosted by a 41-yard run.

Let’s start with what was easily Clement’s best run of the night (note: each GIF is linked to text above it in case the GIF does not load on your article) - not so much because of the yardage, but because it’s the one play where he looks like an NFL running back. He notices the blocking hasn’t developed where it was supposed to, and bounces the run outside, boosting a two yard gain into a better six yard gain. Unfortunately he doesn’t have the speed to get around the defense, but at least he diagnosed the play and adjusted.

His biggest gain on the night was a 40-yard sprint down the field. The blocking developed nicely and he did a good job of running through the correct hole. He delivers a nice stiff-arm to make it a bigger gain, but ultimately got caught from behind before he could make it to the end zone.

Those two plays above were the outliers. The rest of his runs are like the one below, where he gets stopped by smaller players and has no ability to make defenders miss.

Here, a defender grabs Clement with a single-arm grasp, which totally stops him in his tracks. Clement doesn’t run with the power to break through arm tackles and generally struggles to gain yards after contact.

What to like:

He’s a bigger running back at 220 pounds and returned two punts in his college career, so he could offer some special teams possibility, too.

What needs work:

If you are looking for a dynamic, speedy, or elusive runner, then I’d suggest you keep on moving - nothing to see here. He ran a 4.68 second 40 yard dash at the Combine, and it is evident in his game film that he isn’t exactly a fast runner. He is a bigger running back at 220 pounds, but gets tackled pretty easily for a bigger back. Most of his carries don’t produce much, as he lacks both speed and power, and doesn’t have the natural ability to create yardage on his own. He also doesn’t offer much as a receiver, making him a two-down back.

Does he make sense as a Bengals running back:

Clement is a slightly smaller, slightly slower and less athletic version of Bengals practice squad back Tra Carson. If he were to join the Bengals, he would mainly be pushing Carson for a spot as a special teams player / deep running back hoping to latch onto the practice squad. Seeing as Clement is expected to be drafted early on day 3 in Rounds 4-5, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be a real contender for one of the Bengals’ draft picks. There are simply better running backs to choose from who fit the Bengals’ needs and schemes in more complete ways.