The Seattle Seahawks have a very good roster, but what's especially nice and hopeful about their team is that the vast majority of current Seahawks are young and signed through 2017, at least. This series leading up to the regular season opener on September 11 will take a closer look at 30 such players, all of whom won't be turning 30 this year.
Player: Frank Clark, DE
How acquired: Second round pick (63rd overall) in 2015 NFL Draft
Free agent: 2019
When the Seahawks selected Clark on the second day of the draft last year, it was met with a lot of controversy. Clark had been arrested less than a year earlier on a domestic violence charge and was considered toxic by many. It was surprising that Pete Carroll and John Schneider would touch a player like that at a time when everyone was on high alert because of Greg Hardy and Ray Rice both basically missing all of the previous season because of domestic violence charges; Rice hasn’t played since and Hardy is once again untouchable after a year on the Cowboys.
Drafting a player in the second round who had a red flag like that was highly questionable, not just for moral reasons, but also for personnel reasons. The NFL has put up with players who are “bad people” for decades and continue to do so, but most teams have no tolerance for guys who miss games and practices because of legal issues and suspensions due to conduct detrimental to the team/league. However, Pete and John insisted after the draft that they did their due diligence in researching the case and the player before deciding that Clark was safe to take.
That assertion was questioned by local papers who did their own independent research on Seattle’s research, but what we’re left with is this: Over a year later, Clark hasn’t gotten in any trouble. He hasn’t been arrested. He hasn’t been suspended. He hasn’t so much gotten thrown out of practice as far as I know. It seems like he is a model citizen. That could theoretically change at any moment, but we have to deal with what we’re left with: A guy and a team who assert up and down that he’s not the person who you’d assume he was based on the police report, and zero evidence to dispute that claim since that night.
I certainly hope that they are telling the truth about that, because as a Seahawks fan it’s going to be virtually impossible to not root for him and cheer for him in the coming years ... the sacks are coming.
As a rookie, Clark was mostly quiet, finishing with 15 tackles and three sacks in part-time duty. But Carroll said during training camp that he regrets not playing Clark more, which would suggest that opposing offenses are going to get to know the second-year player a lot better this season. When Seattle drafted him in 2015, friend-of-the-site Rob Staton of SeahawksDraftBlog.com said that physically, there was almost no difference between Clark and former number one overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. Side-by-side, without taking into account pre-college and pre-draft hype, you might not be able to tell the difference between the two pass-rushers when it comes to their physical talents.
We may soon find out if Clark will become the player that Clowney was supposed to be.
First, he’ll need to earn reps away from some of the best defensive lineman in football. He’ll need to force his way onto the field and impart a lack of choice on Carroll’s part when it comes to how many snaps he will get on Sundays. Despite playing behind Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett on the outside, fighting for reps against guys like Cassius Marsh and perhaps Ryan Robinson, and knowing that the middle of the line is also stacked with Ahtyba Rubin, Jarran Reed, Quentin Jefferson, and others, Clark will have to assert himself as the best lineman on this team.
If he lives up to the abilities he has physically, and continues to bury the negative attributes we associated with him around the time he was drafted, that’s exactly the type of player he could be in the next couple of seasons.
Click here to see The Film Room’s take on Frank Clark’s rookie season