Philadelphia Eagles’ Corey Clement has Doug Pederson intrigued
PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles’ plans at running back are still murky.
The team lacks a clear-cut starter, even with free agency and the draft settled in the rearview. Its roster instead includes a group of smaller, shifty backs who are be more suited to serve as change-of-pace options or pass-catchers than workhorses.
Then there’s 2016 starter Ryan Mathews, whose status remains uncertain as he recovers from neck surgery. If Mathews is out of the fold, the Eagles don’t have a bruising ball-carrier to lean on.
And that’s where 220-pound Corey Clement enters the mix. The Birds announced the signing of the Wisconsin running back earlier this week, which got fans buzzing about the possibility that an undrafted free agent could fill a glaring hole on the Eagles’ roster.
Count coach Doug Pederson among those who are intrigued, though he isn’t ready to anoint Clement as a shoe-in to make the team in September.
Pederson said Friday the Eagles developed a relationship with Clement, a Southern New Jersey native, and are eager to see how he performs on the field.
“He’s a bigger back,” Pederson said Friday before the Eagles began their rookie minicamp. “He’s physical. He’s a guy that we know obviously being from the area. And it’s exciting to get guys like that in here, who you kind of have a little history with.”
As an undrafted free agent, it seems unlikely Clement will have an avenue to a large role on the Eagles’ offense. But the opening is there. At the least, the Birds could use a tough short-yardage running back to mix in with their speedier options.
Clement racked up 1,375 yards and 15 touchdowns on 314 carries with the Badgers last season en route to landing on the all-Big Ten first team.
Pederson said the Birds pegged Clement as a potential draft pick and quickly reached out to him after the seventh round came to a close.
“We had a draftable grade on him, and as the draft winds down, you look for guys that either slip through the cracks or guys that have potential,” Pederson said. “He’s one of those guys we felt like we should give him a chance.”
Teams likely chose not to draft Clement in part because he lacks eye-popping burst, and some analysts noted that scouts questioned his enthusiasm. On the field, Clement battled injuries and ineffectiveness in 2015, which also could have dented his draft stock.
In any case, the Eagles were quick to pounce when they knew Clement would be available. And now they have a player who can fit a need on their roster, if he proves worthy of making it.
“It’s great to have those connections, to know these guys and then to get him in here, get him going and get him working just see where he’s at,” Pederson said. “[Clement is] someone that could hopefully potentially fill and create some good competition at that spot.”
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