Do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a need for a physical running back? How would John Clay fit in Tampa Bay's offense? Find out in this prospect profile.
All right, draftniks. You know that Pewter Report is the undisputed king of Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft coverage. We’ve listed players, such as wide receiver Mike Williams (2010), wide receiver Arrelious Benn (2010), defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (2010), quarterback Josh Freeman (2009), wide receiver Dexter Jackson (2008), offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah (2008), quarterback Josh Johnson (2008), defensive end Gaines Adams (2007), linebacker Quincy Black (2007), wide receiver Maurice Stovall (2006), quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (2006), middle linebacker Barrett Ruud (2005), cornerback Torrie Cox (2003) – among others, at their respective positions in the Bucs’ Best Bets sections of Pewter Report’s annual Bucs Draft Preview.As the 2011 NFL Draft approaches, Pewter Report’s resident draft experts, Scott Reynolds and Charlie Campbell, have spent countless hours watching over 12 college games per week and scouting which prospects would look good wearing red and pewter next year. With over 500 college games to review dating back over the last four years and countless scouting contacts throughout the NFL, Reynolds and Campbell are armed with the inside scoop needed to put together these scouting reports on players who might fit Tampa Bay’s schemes on offense and defense.These regular Pewter Prospect profiles on PewterReport.com will scout out players that are candidates for the Buccaneers to select in next April's draft. Pewter Report's predictions of who the Bucs will take will be in the Bucs' Best Bets in the digital Bucs Draft Preview magazine and the Bucs 7 Round Mock Draft on the website.Will one of these players wind up being the next Barrett Ruud, Mike Williams or Josh Johnson? We’ll all find out next April when Tampa Bay is on the clock.WISCONSIN RUNNING BACK JOHN CLAYVITAL STATS:
The Badgers standout checks in at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds. At the NFL Scouting Combine Clay ran the 40-yard dash in 4.87 seconds. At his pro day he improved his time to 4.72.
In his three-year collegiate career Clay was a bell cow running back that carried the load for the Badgers offense. Clay ran for 3,413 yards (5.4 yards per carry) on 629 carries with 41 touchdowns. He also caught 11 passes for 72 yards. Clay had 10 fumbles in his career and lost five of them.
Clay’s best season came as a sophomore in 2009 when he ran for 1,517 yards on 287 carries (5.3 average) with 18 touchdowns. Last year Clay ran for 1,012 yards and 14 touchdowns as the Badgers transitioned to a three-back rotation. As a red-shirt freshman, Clay ran for 884 yards and nine touchdowns. He is seventh in school history in rushing. WHY HE COULD BE A RED AND PEWTER PLAYER
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have their long-term starting running back in LeGarrette Blount. However, the Bucs are looking for some depth at the running back position. They would prefer a change of pace speed back, but also would consider adding another power back to pair with Blount to wear down defenses.
There is a school of thought in the Tampa Bay organization that the NFL is trending bigger. Some believe that more and more the league will be a big man’s game. With that in mind they think having two big power backs could be an asset to pound defenses, and be able to maintain the Bucs offensive identity if Blount were to go down with an injury. The Buccaneers also think that it will be even more of a big man’s game if the NFL goes to an 18-game regular season.
Clay is powerful North-South runner that is capable of wearing down defenses. He is a physical back that rarely goes down due to the first contact. Typically it takes multiple defenders to pile onto Clay before he gets tackled. Clay has a good stiff arm that he uses to gain yards when he breaks into the open field. He has no problem handling a high number of carries and seems to finish games better than he starts them.
In his career with the Badgers Clay was not called on to catch a lot of passes as the Badgers had a run dominated offense. At the NFL Clay will need to develop his skills as a pass receiver and blitz protector because he rarely was called on to do that in college.
At the college level Clay had enough quickness and burst to hit the hole and get to the second level of the defense. That is a question concerning Clay for playing at the NFL level.
Tampa Bay feels that Clay can slide into the offense smoothly. The Bucs running plays are very similar to the plays that Clay ran in college. The Buccaneers think that Clay’s one-cut downhill running style would be a fit in their offense.
Clay is a hard-worker and the Bucs have gotten a recommendation on Clay from Wisconsin coach Brett Bielema, who is good friends with Raheem Morris’ assistant Jay Kaiser. Sources with the Bucs have told Pewter Report that they like Clay, and they have some interest in taking him late in the draft or signing him as an undrafted free agent.TOUGHEST TRANSITION IN TAMPA BAY
The biggest weakness in Clay’s game is a lack of elite speed and quickness. That causes some to believe that Clay won’t be able to succeed at the NFL level.HIS BIGGEST GAMES9/11/10 vs. San Jose St.
137 yards on 23 carries and 2 touchdowns11/14/09 vs. Michigan
151 yards on 26 carries and 1 touchdown12/5/09 at Hawaii
172 yards on 24 carries and 3 touchdowns10/3/09 at Minnesota
184 yards on 32 carries and 3 touchdowns9/12/09 vs. Fresno State
143 yards on 21 carries with 1 touchdown DRAFT PROJECTION
Clay is considered to be a late-round pick at this time.OTHER PEWTER PROSPECTS
North Carolina MLB Quan SturdivantOhio State DE Cameron HeywardMaryland MLB Alex WujciakMarshall MLB Mario Harvey
Kansas State RB Daniel Thomas
Pittsburgh RB Dion Lewis
Missouri DE Aldon Smith
Kentucky RB Derrick LockeNorth Carolina DE Robert QuinnIowa DE Adrian ClaybornWisconsin TE Lance KendricksGeorgia DE/OLB Justin Houston Florida G Mike PounceyNorth Carolina LB Bruce CarterNorth Carolina State LB Nate IrvingFlorida State G Rodney HudsonMississippi State OT Derek SherrodPurdue DE Ryan KerriganFlorida S Ahmad BlackOklahoma State RB Kendall HunterNebraska CB Prince Amukamara
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