As we delve further into the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason, our attention has begun to shift towards the draft. Like we’ve done all offseason, these reports will cover the prospects of the 2015 NFL Draft, placing an emphasis on those who could help the Steelers the most.
For your Sunday, an under-utilized tight end that has the size and potential to have a more successful NFL career. Cameron Clear from Texas A&M.
#85 – Cameron Clear/TE Texas A&M: 6’5/3 277
– Big-bodied TE but not sloppy, carries his weight well, and possesses tremendous length with 33 5/8 inch arms (second longest at Combine)
– Powerful run blocker who uses size to his advantage, shows ability to stick to and drive defenders
– Uses strength and length to seal defenders and keeps lower half moving to keep his base in sync with his upper body
– Surprising explosiveness off the line
– Relatively quick out of his breaks and immediately snaps his head to the quarterback
– Underused and likely underdeveloped prospect with a lot of room to grow, will improve with consistent reps
– Virtually zero production in his career, treated as a blocker
– Snap count was incredibly limited, wasn’t apart of most personnel packages, best source of tape probably comes from practice and pre-draft bowl game
– Inexperienced route runner who ran one or two types of routes in college
– Debate over his position at next level, some believe he should become an offensive tackle
– Lacks experience in a three point stance, typically played out of a two-point behind the LOS
– Injuries hampered his 2014 season
– Off the field issues, kicked off Tennessee program, transferred to a JUCO, and then arrived at Texas A&M
– Career: 10 catches 80 yards 1 TD
– 2014: 5 catches for 34 yards, three of which came in one game
– Missed two games in 2014 due to an ankle sprain
– Out of high school, committed to Tennessee, playing 2011 season
– Arrested in May of 2012 on charges of stealing baseball player’s laptop, was immediately suspended and dismissed from team two days later
– Spent 2012 season at Arizona Western Community College, top JUCO school, was teammates with Nebraska OLB Randy Gregory and Iowa State TE EJ Bibbs
– Highly touted high school recruit, four star prospect
– 44 catches for 662 yards coupled with 19 sacks across junior and senior seasons
– Received interest from Oklahoma, UCLA, Texas. And Ole Miss
This report isn’t as complete as the others and comes with the caveat that finding tape on Clear is difficult. Not for a lack of Aggies’ games, but for the tiny number of snaps per game that he played. In the two Texas A&M games I watched, he couldn’t have even reached double-digit snaps.
We’ll sparingly produce reports like this throughout the draft process – “bite-size” snippets on players that don’t have much tape out there for one reason or another. For a lack of snaps or prospects from the smallest of schools, like Azusa Pacific RB Terrell Watson, someone I hope to write a report on later this month.
I wanted evaluate Clear given the Steelers’ apparent interest in him, scheduling a pre-draft visit for him on April 13th. You can bank on at least two or three eventual draftees to be players from this list.
Clear is treated as a big-bodied blocker who effectively functioned as a lead blocker. Powerful upper body who drives through contact and bullies around smaller defenders. Has the length to engage and stick.
Lined up in a two point stance off the line, he pancakes this DB.
Coming onto your screen from the left, you can see Clear down block the defender and clear a path for the runner in the NFLPA Bowl Game.
The weight and plus length, the latter something the Steelers are clearly attracted to, also visiting with the 33 inch armed Blake Bell, makes him a potent run blocker.
The only thing more limited than his catches are the diversity of routes he ran in college. In searching just to find his catches in 2014, he was occasionally split out, but his main route concept was to release into the flats as a checkdown option. Makes any evaluation tough, though he did use his big frame to his advantage, running through contact on this catch against South Carolina.
Clear is raw and I only saw him line up in a three-point stance consistently during the NFLPA game. The odds are good that he has little to no technique on how to play with his hand in the ground, something he’ll be doing almost exclusively in the NFL, especially in the Steelers’ offense. With his lack of reps, he’ll have to basically be taught the whole route tree, too.
You’re basically starting with a clean slate.
The off the field issue is something that has to be brought up when talking to him. Getting kicked off a program raises many questions, but you’d like to think it’s a transgression Clear has grown and matured from.
Some believe Clear should continue to bulk up and become an offensive lineman. Nfldraftscout.com curiously lists him as an offensive tackle with tight end being his “secondary” position. While a late round prospect will do anything a team asks of him, it’s safe to say he would prefer to stay at tight end. That’s why he committed to Tennessee out of high school, commenting in a 2011 Examiner.com article, “[Head Coach Derrick Dooley] made it very clear that they wanted me to be a tight end in their offense. That was really important to me.”
As tantalizing as it is to think the Steelers are going to take an ultra-athletic, “move” tight end, it’s unlikelly to happen. This is a team looking for a blocker-first with some athleticism but overall, a bit-part receiver. Clear and Delaware’s Nick Boyle fit that description. That’s the type of prospect Matt Spaeth was supposed to be but instead wound up as a glorified offensive lineman.
But if the Steelers select this former Aggie, he’s unlikely to make a blip on the radar in year one. Theoretically, given their similar profiles, he could be looked towards becoming Spaeth’s replacement for the start of the 2016 season.
For that upside, and that talent that’s been noticed since high school, I give Clear a draftable grade. Barely. Nothing higher than a seventh round selection. I wouldn’t let the fact the team spent a seventh rounder on Rob Blanchflower influence me. If Clear is worth it, take him. A previous seventh rounder who hasn’t spent a day on a 53 man roster isn’t going to dictate my draft day decisions. That’s my philosophy.
Projection: Mid-Late 7th to Priority Free Agent
Games Watched: at South Carolina, at Mississippi St, NFLPA Bowl Game
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