LB Damone Clark, Louisiana St.

6’3” – 245 lbs.

Background:

Louisiana native who served as a backup in his first season. As a sophomore, started three games and rotated into the defense the rest of the year, finishing with 50-4.0-3.5. Went 63-4.0-1.0 as a junior, then put together a monster senior year of 137-15.5-5.5.

Positives:

Has over two years of starting experience and put together a massive senior season. Tall, long-limbed middle/inside linebacker with the frame to accommodate more bulk. Flexible and athletic player with speed which gives him sideline-to-sideline range. Able to lock out blockers and prevent them from getting into his frame when flowing to the ball. Does a nice job of playing off of blocks and making tackles when ballcarriers are passing by; willing to step into the hole and take on a block to disrupt the play design. Contact balance is good. Closes well and offers a wide tackling radius. Has the athletic profile to stay on the field in sub packages and was asked to make some rangy drops in zone coverage. Does a nice job of using his hands to feel routes when pattern-matching. Nice transition when planting and driving.  Was often used as a spy. Deadly when he times an A-gap blitz. Bull rush is more powerful than anticipated when blitzing, with good extension and leg drive.

Negatives:

May need to add additional bulk/functional strength. More reactive than anticipatory; not one of the most decisive linebackers in the class. Can fall for the window dressing and take himself away from the play direction, or get sucked in by the play action and let backs/receivers get behind him. Has some issues with leverage at times, tending to play upright. Could do a better job of keeping his shoulders square when flowing. Some of his angles are a little bit too aggressive. Can look hesitant in zone coverage; more physically and athletically suited to coverage than he is natural in terms of his overall feel.

Summary:

A highly productive college linebacker who has an attractive combination of length, flexibility, and range, traits which could potentially make him an every-down defender at the next level, but whose instincts still look like a work in progress, with too many false steps and too much hesitation in his reads. Might need to be eased into the defense as he continues developing his feel and adding functional strength. A better run defender than coverage linebacker at this point, but could ultimately have more upside in the passing game.

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