‘Shocked’ Corey Clement Aims to Find a Home with Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - If you are looking for an undrafted free agent with the ability to make some noise with the 2017 Eagles, look no further than Glassboro's Corey Clement, the bruising running back who finished his college career at Wisconsin with a 1,375-yard season.
A poor combine performance sent Clement tumbling from draftable commodity to Philadelphia on a make-good rookie deal, an intriguing spot for the 220-pound back because the Eagles have no real bell cow at the position.
"I thought I was among the best (running backs) in the class," Clement said after his first NFL practice at rookie minicamp. "I was very shocked. ...just pissed off that I didn't get my name called on draft day."
The 2016 Eagles' starter, Ryan Mathews, isn't expected back although remains on the roster for now as he recovers from offseason neck surgery. And that leaves a host of smaller situational backs best suited for limited roles, including veteran stalwart Darren Sproles.
After Sproles, the lone proven commodity, it's second-year players Wendell Smallwood and Byron Marshall, a player coach Doug Pederson confirmed the Eagles are cross-training at both RB and receiver, as well as pint-sized rookie Donnel Pumphrey.
Clement conversely brings size to the dance and Pederson seems intrigued by the back's potential.
"He's a bigger back," Pederson said Friday before the practice session. "He's physical. He's a guy that we know obviously being from the area. And it's exciting to get guys like that who you kind of have a little history with."
It's tough to rely on any undrafted free agent no matter how natural the fit might look on paper, however.
"Nothing's guaranteed," Clement said. "I could have gone somewhere else and had to put in the same amount of work, if not more. At the same time, you got to really be accountable for your own actions, and you just got to put the work in, because you know you could be gone the next day."
The biggest knock on Clement is his speed but with a Joe Douglas-led personnel department which has consistently touted production, Clement fits right in as an all-Big Ten first-team selection with 15 touchdowns on his resume from last season with the Badgers.
Pederson said that the Eagles considered Clement as a player who should have been drafted and therefore a high-priority free agent.
"We had a draftable grade on him," the coach confirmed. " And as the draft winds down, you look for guys that either slip through the cracks or guys that have potential. He's one of those guys we felt like we should give him a chance."
And an opportunity is all Clement is looking for. Getting it with his hometown team is just gravy.
"Being able to represent my family and friends in the right manner -- there was no hesitation of where I wanted to go," the RB said.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen