Seventh round draft picks in the National Football League are often caught between a rock and a hard place. Chances are, you’re a good player and hey, you’ve been drafted, but there is also the very real possibility that you won’t make NFL teams’ final roster let alone see much of the field.
For Toney Clemons and Terrence Frederick, this is the reality they face as seventh round selections of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s difficult enough to make an NFL team but when you have the players in front of you like the Steelers do it can get even tougher.
For Clemons, a former Pittsburgh-Area product who originally went to Michigan before transferring to Colorado, this is exactly the scenario he is facing. Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders already sit in front of him on the depth chart and have way more experience. That doesn’t mean Clemons has any plans to just sit back and wait for his release papers this summer.
The good news for the 6’2” 190lbs Clemons is that the fifth wide receiver spot is wide open along with any number of potential roles on special teams. For a guy that ran a blistering 4.36 forty on his pro day, it would appear the Steelers would love to find a way to get him on the field from time-to-time.
Clemons has shown the ability to be a possession-type receiver but also displayed the ability to get open deep. Should he be the eventual guy for the fifth receiver spot, he should be considered a steal in the 7th round.
Another 7th round selection, Frederick is a durable cornerback who once started 39 consecutive games for Texas A&M. Frederick will more than likely be limited to special teams in his first year in Pittsburgh should he make the final roster. With players like Ike Taylor, Curtis Brown, Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen in front of him, seeing the field on defense could be a challenge. Frederick is not a burner, but he has capable speed that could make him a viable candidate for nickel and dime duty and at 5’10” he has decent size.
Frederick didn’t have the best of days at the NFL Combine, but improved his stock significantly with his pro day. With the NFL continuing to be more of a passing league, corners with decent speed and excellent tackling skills are a must for even defensive backs that cover third or fourth receivers. Frederick could be just the guy for such a potential role.
Playing in the pass-happy Big 12 against gunslingers like Brandon Weeden, Robert Griffin III and his own teammate Ryan Tannehill, Frederick should be prepared to see lots of passing at the next level. Much like Brown was last season, I look for the Steelers to bring Frederick along slowly with the bulk of his action on special teams.
Both Clemons and Frederick know the deck is stacked against them as seventh round selections, but there are openings available to both players. Their effort and ability to pick up the playbook will go a long ways towards determining their fates as members of the Black ‘n Gold.