Name: Chuck Clark
School: Virginia Tech
Position fit: Strong safety or slot corner
Stats to know: Registered 83 stops in three seasons, missing just 19 of 230 attempted tackles.
What he does best:
- Strong tackler, drives low out of his break-down to cut down ball-carriers.
- Capable of delivering big hits, attacks plays aggressively.
- Diagnoses opportunities to set the tone, rarely reckless or out of control.
- Flies downhill against the run to fill running lanes and narrow the field.
- Willing to shed blocks to make stops around the line of scrimmage, can be relied upon to win duels against fullbacks and tight ends.
- Fills with discipline, takes good angles to the ball and rarely loses his gap.
- Competent slot defender, breaks quickly on underneath throws when aligned in off coverage.
- Has the length and physicality to disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage, effective in press.
- Versatile, can play corner or safety.
- Identifies concepts instinctively, possesses a high football IQ.
- Awkward in space, a bad fit in center field.
- Tackling form regresses against more elusive ball-carriers when aligned as a single high safety.
- Lacks the range to close ground from deep alignments, unable to influence long balls sideline to sideline.
- Possesses poor ball skills, picked off only two passes since 2014, and none as a senior.
Player comparison: Adrian Amos, Chicago Bears
Although a somewhat limited starter, Amos remains a reliable NFL safety. In a league short of competent players at the position, a fifth-round selection represents an absolute bargain. Clark, like Amos, is incredibly active around the line of scrimmage, relishing the physical components of a strong safety’s skillset. Unblocked, both are capable of wrecking runs in the backfield, and neither is afraid to mix it up against blockers. While the pair are at their best on the front foot, they are also capable of blanketing receivers in coverage.
Bottom line: Clark’s consistency stood out in a complete final season at Virginia Tech. There is very little flashy about him, yet Clark has a strong case to claim he was the Hokies’ best defender in 2016. Adding value, he has experience playing at a high level on the perimeter, in the slot, at strong safety and at center field during his career at Virginia Tech. He’s ideally suited to playing in the box, where he can use his instincts and aggression to disrupt running lanes and underneath routes. The shortage of big plays will count against him, but top defenses thrive on assignment-sound disruptors of Clark’s quality.