2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Damone Clark

2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Damone Clark

by April 21, 2022 3 comments

Injuries could not have been worse for the 2022 LSU defense. However, Damone Clark was nearly the only player out there to be a mainstay. Clark was a production monster last season for the Tigers. He was third in the nation with 78 solo tackles and saw a huge rise in stock. But, that rise in stock quickly deteriorated, as it was announced Clark will miss his rookie year due to spinal fusion surgery. Still, Clark will be 23 by the time he, hopefully, can get on the field for the first time, an age that isn’t too worrisome. Regardless of the injury, there is a ton to offer on Clark’s film; let’s see where he can land in this year’s draft.

Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Draft Scouting Reports.

Player Bio

Name: Damone Clark
Jersey: No. 18
Position: Linebacker
School: LSU
Class: Senior
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 240 lbs

Games Watched: Alabama (2021), Texas A&M (2021), Georgia (2019)

Major Injury History: Spinal Fusion Surgery (2022)

Player Breakdown

Instincts (12/15)

On the first play of the Alabama game, Clark sent a negative tone for himself by biting hard on a boot, allowing a first down. He reeled it back in, though, and showed that he is a very instinctual player throughout the rest of the three games. Clark obviously studies film. He tends to know the schemes of the opponent and knows how to position himself against the said scheme. The LSU product knows which lineman to attack to open space for the defensive lineman and is very good at reading the holes in an offensive line. Clark does a lot well with his IQ and can develop this even more with a year of film study (due to the injury).

Tackling (11.5/15)

Tackling is interesting for Clark. When he does, in fact, get his hands on the ball carrier, Clark wraps up well and takes opponents down. Clark is also a very strong tackler and won’t get trucked through by any ball carriers. Nevertheless, It’s the pre-tackle process that is tricky for Clark. He takes poor angles and struggles to change direction to a ball carrier slipping outside. When he is able to get up close, Clark will almost always get the opponent to the ground. 

Block Shedding (6.75/10)

Clark has an interesting past with block shedding and some solid upside. At his best, Clark will get a good arm extension to keep his distance from the blocker, rip off, and get to the football. There are too many reps on film, though, that Clark struggles to get this arm extension. He’ll be far too close to the blocker and try to just use strength to get off, even though the blocker has got Clark firmly.

Run Defense (6.75/10)

Run defense is another polarizing part about Clark. He doesn’t explode to the running back like his testing says he would. Instead, Clark simply sifts through the line. He approaches the run game with patience, which can hurt him and benefit him. Clark has nice contact balance as well, allowing him to continue the fight into the backfield. Finally, Clark sees the line clearly to make a decision of who to attack. Still, that explosiveness needs to go up for Clark to make a bigger impact in the run game.

Pursuit/Closing Speed (5.5/10)

Clark put up a 9.87 raw athletic score in his pre-draft. If there was one RAS in the world that doesn’t correlate to the player, it would be this one. Clark has a serious lack of agility and ability to change direction. His explosiveness has flashed at times but has mostly been pretty rough. He’s a player that looks like he’s jogging every play, and the sideline-to-sideline is an issue. Coming downhill, Clark can do well to close on players, but the negative aspects of this area still remain.

Pass Rush Ability (6.75/10)

LSU used Clark on the edge and as a blitzer often. He looked more refined and quick with his pass-rush moves in 2019, though he still did well in 2021. Clark can give solid drive from the edge and tries to incorporate counters. However, these don’t really work, and Clark fails to make that much of an impact. He did make one highlight play with a nasty hesitation on the Alabama guard to record a pressure. Those flashes are what excite you about Clark’s game, even while the negatives are still there.

Man Coverage (6/10)

There weren’t many opportunities for Clark in man coverage. He still did well when thrust into the moment. Clark shut down a go route from Alabama’s Brian Robinson Jr. He’s not going to be the greatest tight end killer in the world, but Clark is serviceable in this aspect. Overall, coverage isn’t necessarily Clark’s game. He’ll do well enough to keep up, but teams will want him blitzing, filling gaps, and coming off the edge at times.

Zone Coverage (6.5/10)

Here’s where Clark got a bit more experience at LSU. He can be either very flat-footed in zone or begin the play with a nice backpedal. Obviously, the backpedal is when Clark executes the play best. You can see the instincts with Clark play out in zone, as he’s constantly filtering players in and out of his zone. Another minor thing that Clark does well is he makes sure to chip almost every receiver to enter his zone.

Ball Skills (4/5)

Clark had a great improvement with his ball skills over the course of his last season. He finished out with one interception, two forced fumbles, and three pass deflections. One of those breakups game against Alabama where he made a beautiful play on Day 3 receiver Slade Bolden to knock the ball right out of Bolden’s catch radius. This, and the other flashes Clark has shown, are big reasons for such a high grade in the ball skills category.

Versatility (4/5)

The versatility that Clark has reminds you of a much worse Micah Parsons. However, he still did it all for LSU. Clark was lined up on the edge a ton. He didn’t create the biggest impact, but it’s a position he could project to rotate into at the next level. Where Clark should be most is as a 4-3 middle linebacker. Perhaps he could try and take on the field general role as the inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, though teams should stick with what he knows out the gate.

Player Summary

Clark is a very polarizing player to watch. There are plays where he just looks like he’s jogging, and others that he can dominate on. We won’t hear much about Clark for a while once he’s drafted because of that surgery he received earlier this year. Thus, Clark’s career will project similarly to that of the New England Patriots’ Cameron Mcgrone.

Mcgrone was a fourth-round pick last season and sat the whole year but looks to slot into the rotation this season for Bill Belichick. While Clark may not be ready for instant action in his second year, this is a player with some tools to carve out some sort of role in the NFL. In terms of a draft projection, Clark should not come close to the first two days. He’ll most likely be selected late Day 3 due to the injury, which fits the talent level as well.

Rookie Projection: Spends the Year on PUP

Third-Year Projection: Developmental Linebacker

Player Grade (69.75/100): Fifth-Round Pick

Pro Comparison: Baron Browning

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