Damone Clark, LB
The Cowboys got a steal when Clark fell into their laps in the 2022 NFL draft. The former LSU LB was one of the best in his draft class. Expected to go early in the second round, Clark fell all the way to the fifth round after a neck condition spooked teams and tanked his stock.
Dallas, the team who discovered his medical condition, felt good with his long-term prognosis. They felt so good they didn’t even see a need for a red shirt year following his spinal fusion surgery last year. Playing 10 games in his rookie season, Clark looked good. Good enough to raise hopes to some pretty high heights for his sophomore campaign in Dallas.
2023 was supposed to be a breakout for Clark. He was a year removed from his neck surgery and in prime position to succeed on the Cowboys. Dallas felt so good about him, they barely addressed the LB position over the offseason. They rolled into the regular season with Clark and Leighton Vander Esch entrenched as starters without much else in proven talent behind them.
When Vander Esch was lost to a potentially season-ending neck injury, many again hoped it would be Clark who would rise to the challenge. While Clark has been fine, he hasn’t made the step forward many were expecting. In fact, it’s been converted safety, Markquese Bell, who’s been getting all the praise in the post-LVE era.