What does Micheal Clemons bring to the New York Jets?
Considering the starters and depth the Jets already had in place at edge, along with a few glaring needs elsewhere, Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh clearly stayed true to their board and strongly valued Clemons’ ability.
Here are some of the most important things for Jets fans to know about Clemons.
Pre-draft measurables and production
Clemons brings good size to the defensive line at 6-foot-5 and 263 pounds. He brings a ton of length as well (34 7/8″ arms).
He tested pretty well athletically in the pre-draft process finishing with an 8.20 Relative Athletic Score. His 40-yard dash time of 4.85 is fair to expect for someone of his size. However, his 1.65 10-yard split is much more impressive, showing the quick get-off and explosiveness he plays with. Clemons’ impressive vertical jump of 35″ further proves his explosiveness.
From a production standpoint, Clemons attained success in the 2020 and 2021 seasons at Texas A&M. Over the last two years, he recorded 11 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in 15 games played. Per Pro Football Focus, Clemons had 27 quarterback hurries in 2021. Last season, he also had two passes defended and a forced fumble.
Based on his talent and college statistics, the Jets got fair value by drafting Clemons in the fourth round (117th overall) as he was expected to be a mid-round selection.
Similar to Jermaine Johnson, Clemons offers great toughness and effort on the defensive front. Clemons can win with strength and power using his size and arm length.
pretty easy to see why the Jets staff liked Micheal Clemons pic.twitter.com/FRzSqUwrfp
— #Trade13 (@Zach2Elijah) May 5, 2022
Micheal Clemons explodes off the ball and wins with a spin move pic.twitter.com/co25tl63mw
— #Trade13 (@Zach2Elijah) April 30, 2022
As a pass rusher, Clemons is very explosive off the snap for a bigger edge defender. From there, he can win with a good pass rush plan that contains a multitude of moves and solid hand technique. Clemons can efficiently use his hands in a variety of ways to beat offensive tackles and impact the quarterback.
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) April 30, 2022
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) April 29, 2022
Clemons is not the fastest on the outside when trying to win with finesse attacking up the field. There are some limitations athletically. He will likely not win with good bend turning the corner which is to be expected considering his height. As a run defender, Clemons is not fully refined.
As stated early on, the Jets are filled with depth on the defensive edge.
The group currently consists of talented starters in Carl Lawson and Jermaine Johnson, while John Franklin-Myers could possibly feature as an edge defender on early downs and obvious running situations. The depth was already promising before adding Clemons with Jacob Martin, Bryce Huff, and Vinny Curry; all of whom are primarily pass rush specialists.
As a 25-year-old rookie who is raw as a run defender, it will be interesting to see what the Jets’ plan is for Clemons in year one. Most likely, he will provide upside as a depth piece who can bring a fresh burst to the defensive line in passing situations.
Considering his older age (he will turn 25 in August), it is hard to project significant room for growth. The most beneficial progression for Clemons would be to improve his play against the run.
At the very least, Clemons is someone who should probably be able to come in and immediately provide an explosive presence on the outside of the defensive line. The Jets showed last season they will constantly rotate the defensive line. Adding a reliable pass rusher in Clemons who can come in fresh as a rotational player would be a serviceable use of a fourth-round pick.
Clemons was suspended for the first game of Texas A&M’s 2021 season after an August 2021 arrest. The charges included unlawful carrying of a weapon, failure to identify/giving false information, less than two ounces of marijuana possession, and driving with an invalid license. He was released the next morning on a combined $11,400 bond.
When speaking with the media after being selected, Clemons stated how the issue was a “one-time incident”.
“When you look at my character, that was a one-time incident,” Clemons said. “Things like that didn’t happen over the course of my life. I’ve been in trouble with the law once. That’s not who I am, that’s not who my character shows. It’s in the past now. I’ve learned from it and moved forward.”
Even after his off-field issues, Clemons was still voted on by his Texas A&M teammates as a team captain for the 2021 season. He also won the Defensive Leadership Award for his team last year.
Clemons is a good fit schematically in the Jets defense. His strengths revolve around explosiveness off the line and creating pressure on the quarterback. In an attacking front, being able to use his get-off to his advantage helps his chances of contributing.
This selection was arguably the most interesting of the Jets’ seven-player class. Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh rarely take chances on players who have off-field issues, so they seem to have a lot of confidence in his ability. Douglas labeled Clemons as “a first, second day” talent.
Adding Clemons to a group with Carl Lawson, Jermaine Johnson, Jacob Martin, Bryce Huff, and Vinny Curry gives the Jets a potentially great edge group. Ideally, Clemons can be consistently relied upon to generate pressure on the quarterback as a rotational pass rusher.