Jerry Reese and the New York Giants have come under fire lately when it comes to the NFL Draft. They've been accused of betting too much on upside, preferring potential over a more sure high-floor prospects.
Some of Reese's most bile-inducing (at the time) picks were of the high-upside variety. Jason Pierre-Paul, Odell Beckham Jr., Ereck Flowers... All were seen as horrible reaches at the time, gambles on athletic upside that the team couldn't afford. But there's a modifier on that calculation, a variable that is unavailable those of us on the outside, who just have some game tape and the NFL Network's combine broadcast to work with. That's what's between a prospect's ears. When you combine talent and work ethic, that changes the equation and players are far more likely to pan out than to flame out.
Texas Tech Red Raiders' offensive tackle Le'Raven Clark is one of those players. He is one of (roughly) a handful of players who's physical tools look more like something out of a comic book than something most people would be likely to see in their local gym. If the Giants are still in the business of drafting for up-side, and still in need of a right tackle, then Clark could catch their eye.
Weight: 315 pounds
Arm Length: 36 1/8"
Hand Size: 11 7/8"
*No, those are not typos.
40 Time: 5.16 seconds
Vertical Jump: 30" (pro day)
Broad Jump: 9'1" (pro day)
Bench Press: 18 reps
- All of the tools NFL teams are looking for. Good height, thickness, ridiculously long arms, big hands, and a high-revving motor.
- Very quick off the snap and shows quick feet.
- Shows good awareness of defensive line stunts, and goes looking for work at the second level.
- Flashes the ability to sink his hips and anchor against bull rushes.
- Reportedly has a good football IQ and a strong work ethic.
- Very steep learning curve. Texas Tech's offensive scheme essentially asks it's offensive lineman to standup and be big guys for a couple seconds while the quarterback either throws to his read, throws it away, or tucks and runs. Clark rarely had to drive off the ball and mostly retreated in pass protection. Also, he was almost always in a two point stance, rarely with his hand on the ground.
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - 65th
Mocking The Draft - 62nd
CBS - 61st
Draft Tek - 106th
Does He Fit With the Giants?
Yes and no.
Le'Raven Clark has all the tools the Giants love out of their offensive linemen. He's big, quick, agile, with truly freakishly long arms and absolutely massive paws. If you were to custom order an NFL offensive tackle out of a catalog, odds are he would look a lot like Le'Raven Clark.
The problem is that he is more parts and potential than NFL-ready product. In fact, because of Texas Tech's scheme, he is even rawer than Ereck Flowers was coming out.Ideally, Clark would be put in a position where he can sit and develop for a year, learn NFL technique and get a bit stronger, before stepping up and taking a starting job.
So then the question regarding his fit with the Giants then becomes whether or not the Giants believe they have the pieces to afford him that time or if the Giants are willing to play him and deal with his rookie struggles. If either of those come up "Yes", Clark fits. If not, they need to look elsewhere.
There is a lot to like about Le'Raven Clark, and it's difficult not to look at him and think about the player he could become. He is sitting in the "second tier" of offensive tackles, likely a Day 2 pick like Jerald Hawkins or Kyle Murphy. Those two, however, are much closer to "pro ready" than Clark is. That isn't to say that taking him is a "gamble". By all accounts I've read, he has the makeup to become a great tackle. As one NFC personnel director put it:
"He's going to end up being big time in our league. He's got elite foot quickness, he's long and he's smart. He'll keep getting better once he gets to a pro offense and away from that stuff Texas Tech does and he'll become one of the top five tackles in our league." (via NFL.com)
After two years of dealing with a battered offensive line that features at least one rookie, Ben McAdoo and Eli Manning have become pretty good at masking deficiencies on the offensive line. If they're willing to put up with Clark's rookie struggles, he might be a "reach" who eventually becomes a steal.