FanPost

Where's the Toney Clemons controversy?



With their first pick of the 7th round, the Steelers chose the 6'2, 210 pound WR Toney Clemons out of Colorado. The first thing we all noticed about this guy is that Ben finally had the big wideout he famously asked for. The second thing we found out when we googled his name to find out who the heck this non-combine invite is, was that he ran a 4.36 40 yard dash at his pro day. The third thing you probably found out was that he doesn't play anywhere near that fast, that he goes down too easy at times despite his size, that his hands are suspect, or something else that brought you back down to earth and basically wiped him from your mind. The truth is he's probably not Megatron 2.0, but he is one of the more fascinating prospects in a draft laden with them.

After all, maybe that initial excitement wasn't entirely misplaced. He's got size and speed that can't be coached. In fact, his size and speed are nothing short of elite, and if he'd run that 40 on a national stage at the combine you can bet he wouldn't have lasted to the 7th round. Obviously, nobody is going to say he's this year's rookie of the year frontrunner, but he's intriguing as a project at the very least. What if all it would take is an offseason with Ike Taylor in Florida to translate Clemons' track speed to playing speed? Think Calvin Johnson. Think Terrell Owens (hopefully without the attitude). Think about not playing in the ProBowl because he has a game the next week.

If the lure of an elite 40 speed doesn't interest you, think about the possibilities that exist just based on Clemons' size. Forget about Clemons flying down the sideline far ahead of the cornerback, out-jumping the safety for the ball and running over both on his way to the endzone. Think about Clemons on a quick slant, with a tiny in comparison slot corner helplessly walled off from the ball and futilely trying to drag down the hulking receiver. Think about Clemons destroying said slot corner and moving on to stalemate a linebacker as Chris Rainey turns the corner on his way to an 80 yard TD run.

The Steelers had the whole 6th round to think about what to do with their four 7th round picks, and their first one was used on Toney Clemons. They obviously like him, and that means something coming from an organization with such notable recent successes as Wallace, Brown, and Sanders. With Clemons' relative obscurity having missed out on a combine invite, it's even easier to think that maybe the Steelers saw something nobody else did.

On the other hand, maybe the league is right. Maybe he didn't deserve a combine invite and he didn't deserve to be drafted. There have been plenty of guys faster than Clemons who could never run that fast on the field, and Clemons didn't even lead his team in receptions his last year at Colorado. Statistically, he's never really lit it up in college, so why should we expect him to as a pro? Was his lack of work ethic in college due to laziness or boredom or poor coaching or just being a college kid not taking it seriously?

Of course, the Steelers are already deep at receiver this year. Clemons will come into camp behind Wallace, Brown, Cotchery, and Sanders, and he'd have to have to really put things together in the preseason to move even into the 3rd spot, barring injury. There's plenty of question marks about the future, though, with Wallace's contract and Sanders' ankles/feet. Even apart from the practical importance of the issue, though, Toney Clemons is an intriguing prospect. Is Clemons good or not? You can argue that he's a franchise receiver, or you can argue that his head or his heart just isn't where it needs to be. Whatever you think, Clemons is definitely worth arguing about rather than dismissing as an irrelevant boring late round pick, which he certainly is not.

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