Should The Dallas Cowboys Risk Drafting Troubled DE Frank Clark?
The Dallas Cowboys believe in second chances when it comes to some of their more troubled players. But will that grace extend into the upcoming NFL Draft? Two experts over at DallasCowboys.com seem to believe so.
The Cowboys official site recently released seven round mock drafts from five different writers/analysts. Early in the seventh round, DallasCowboys.com writer and former NFL scout Bryan Broaddus and CBS Sports Draft expert Dane Brugler, both selected the same controversial prospect in troubled ex-Michigan defensive end Frank Clark.
But will the Cowboys risk adding another player to their roster with a criminal record that includes domestic violence?
Here is Broaddus’ explanation of the late selection for the Cowboys:
"“Teams have Clark off their board for off the field issues, but I am willing to bet that the Cowboys have the facts.”"
And here Brugler’s reasons for picking Clark for Dallas:
"“Clark would be in the top-75 discussion if not for the baggage, which can be tough to overlook, but if he’s still around in the later stages of the NFL Draft, he is worth the coin flip.”"
So, what is the baggage that could land this talented football player to be left off some NFL draft boards?
Clark was convicted of second-degree felony home invasion after stealing a laptop from a fellow student his freshman year at Michigan. He plead guilty to the felony charge and received probation.
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Clark’s other run-ins with the law include being sued over unpaid rent and being detained by police after driving on the wrong side of the road without proof of insurance and without proper plates.
But the biggest incident of all took place in mid-November and it got Clark dismissed from the Wolverine’s football program entirely. The young prospect was arrested on charges of assault and misdemeanor domestic violence against his girlfriend.
According to the police report, Clark and his girlfriend, Diamond Hurt, got into an argument in a hotel room in Sandusky, Ohio. During the altercation, Clark allegedly punched Hurt in the face, grabbed her around the neck and then proceeded to choke slam her to the ground while landing on top of her.
Hurt refused to press charges against Clark, but police arrested him anyway, as is their practice in those types of situations. Although the incident may leave the talented pass rusher off many draft boards, it appears now he’s won over some teams after the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
In fact, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein listed Clark as the eighth best edge rusher in this draft and has him selected before the third day.
"“Clark has some explosive qualities and power to his game, but the big question is going to be how badly his off-the-field indiscretions play with NFL teams. He’s likely a strong-side 3-4 OLB, but has the ability to play end in a 4-3 as well. Some league insiders believe he could come off the board inside the top 100 picks.”"
His junior year, Clark recorded 43 tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 13 games as the starter for the Wolverines. In his shortened senior season, he racked up 42 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in just nine games. Clearly, Clark was on his way to being one of the top prospects in this draft class.
But given their recent signing of controversial defensive end Greg Hardy last month, would the Dallas Cowboys even pull the trigger on Clark in any round of the draft or as an unsigned free agent afterwards?
The Cowboys certainly have a need at the position, as Hardy was signed to only a one-year deal. And Dallas Morning News’ writer Bob Sturm believes Clark would be a perfect fit in this Dallas defense, as he stated in his draft profile of the young prospect late last month.
"“…(Clark) would fit the profile perfectly for the type of player that Rod Marinelli is seeking and has some arguing on his behalf at Valley Ranch in the front office – an active, athletic, versatile, and disruptive player who can be another difficult assignment to block as you attempt to collapse the pocket. He is a very rare athlete who can vertically leap 38.5″ despite being a defensive linemen, and with his motor and his bullrush strength, some team is going to be willing to deal with the media uproar to get a piece that might really come at a bargain due to the baggage.”"
But can the Cowboys’ public image withstand anymore scrutiny? Unfortunately, I believe the decision lies on the seesaw of talent and morality.
If Clark is talented enough to help this football team, the Cowboys’ front office, coaches and fans are willing to look the other way when it comes to a multitude of off-the-field sins. Just as long as he’s sorry, promises never to do it again, and most importantly, produces big numbers on the field; Clark will be accepted with open arms in Dallas under the guise of universal forgiveness.
Without the baggage, Clark is a possible second round pick. Like Sturm said, his talent means someone is going to be willing to take the risk, even as an undrafted rookie free agent. The question for Cowboys’ fans is, should it be your Dallas Cowboys?
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