Damone Clark, LB
When the Cowboys drafted Demone Clark in 2022, they were taking what many saw as a massive gamble. A failed physical required the prospect to undergo spinal fusion surgery prior to the draft. His health status didn’t just threaten his rookie campaign, but also his career in the NFL.
For as good as Clark was at LSU, there was a layer of risk involved with his selection. Multiple teams reportedly removed him from their draft boards altogether. The Cowboys, a team with inside knowledge of his injury, felt good rolling the dice on the former standout LB. They are no strangers to delayed gratification and were willing to wait on the high-risk/high-reward prospect.
As it turns out, things went better than anyone could have imagined for the 23-year-old LB. He went on to play 10 games as a rookie, starting five, and became a key cog in the Cowboys machine.
Heading into the 2023 season, the Cowboys have put a lot of faith in the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Clark. They rolled into the regular season with just Leighton Vander Esch, Devin Harper, and Clark as their only true off-ball LBs and are banking on all three to play important roles in the coming season.
Clark is a well-rounded three-down LB who is built to last and should benefit playing alongside Vander Esch again. Dan Quinn likes to put his LBs in position to succeed and uses his burley safeties to take on many of the coverage responsibilities that usually fall on LBs.
The final thing working in Clark’s favor are the players in front of him on the defensive line. For the first time in seemingly forever, the Cowboys have two stout DTs (Hankins and Smith) in the middle taking on blocks and allowing LBs to move freely.
The stage is set for Clark to have a great season in 2023.