A little full disclosure to start this article, as an analyst I’m a huge fan of Louisville Cardinals slot cornerback Kei’Trel Clark. Prior to the NFL combine, Clark’s film was exactly what I thought the Cleveland Browns could use in the slot. After a long time interviewing him, I also believe that his attitude, style of play and underdog mentality is a perfect fit for what the team needs.
Clark spent the last three seasons at Louisville after his freshman year at Liberty. In four years, three of which he played mostly outside cornerback, Clark played in 43 games. He contributed 167 total tackles, 28 pass deflections, 13.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two total touchdowns.
The totality in which he filled the box score backs up what is shown on tape. Clark is a player that does whatever it takes to get the job done. During part of his interview time at the combine, he talked about always being an underdog in every situation. His willingness to get involved in plays was evident as a freshman:
There's been a lot of talk about how elite Kei'Trel Clark (@_treclark) is in coverage. I wanted to show fans that he isn't a one-dimensional player at CB, he can also get after it and deliver a huge hit. He's going to be super valuable for us. FREE HIM @NCAA @CardSportZone pic.twitter.com/XOxv4L7SYJ— Cards Hive (@CSZCardsHive) August 13, 2020
Clark showed coverage skills throughout his career as well including at the Shrine Bowl where he showed up both with his physicality and continued fight in coverage:
Louisville’s Kei’Trel Clark continues to show he’s the best cornerback at the #ShrineBowl. Nice jam to throw the timing off on this route and then does a wicked job finding the ball in phase for the INT. pic.twitter.com/bM1sShEXHk— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) January 31, 2023
Not only is Clark able to stay with receivers down the field but he also shows the ability to match players from the slot, somewhere he could thrive with Cleveland:
Kei'Trel Clark once again in the slot, this time working in press man coverage in a Cover 1 scheme.— owenstraley21 (@owenstraley21) January 31, 2023
Kick-step to match outside release➡️plant and cut receiver off as he works back inside➡️undercut and high point the football for the PBU➡️tip-drill INT
At the combine, Clark talked about his play in the slot and figuring it how to “feel it” at the position:
What’s it like playing in the slot pic.twitter.com/zWYnXiMxVk— Jared Mueller (@JaredKMueller) March 2, 2023
He’s all about fitting the run and going to throw his body around to get the job done:
Clark is going to throw his body around, period pic.twitter.com/ZCKZLU0O8o— Jared Mueller (@JaredKMueller) March 2, 2023
While the Cardinals DB is willing to get active in the run game, he focuses on all the details to keep himself healthy:
Since he throws his body around, Clark focuses on all the details to stay healthy pic.twitter.com/yzuApjzfGV— Jared Mueller (@JaredKMueller) March 2, 2023
As an undersized player, which Clark noted during the interview, with an ACL tear in 2021, Clark’s draft stock could depend on his testing at the combine. The Draft Network projects Clark with a second-round value while Mel Kiper doesn’t have him ranked among the top 17 cornerbacks in this year’s draft.
Barring an impressive performance on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium, Clark is likely a third or fourth-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft. After spending close to 20 minutes with him, it doesn’t seem like he will be bothered by that. Instead, Clark has had to prove himself for years. As he said, “I didn’t have any stars.”
That didn’t stop him in college and I’d bet on him overcoming almost anything going forward. Like his love for UFC, Clark is a fighter:
Finally, Clark loves the UFC and sees a lot of that 1 on 1 fight in his role pic.twitter.com/nG2UPxwK7l— Jared Mueller (@JaredKMueller) March 2, 2023
This writer would love to see him fighting for the Cleveland Browns in 2023.
(You can find more from my interview with Clark on my Twitter feed.)