After a disappointing year on the offensive line, the New Orleans Saints must work this offseason at improving the protection for QB Drew Brees. Whether it’s via the free agent market or the 2015 NFL Draft, finding security for their Pro Bowl gunslinger is crucial to the offense’s success — Pittsburgh product T.J. Clemmings is a top prospect.
He boasts a lengthy, athletic frame with long arms similar to Saints’ emerging left tackle Terron Armstead. Displaying nimble feet and athleticism, Clemmings’ talents are ideal for the next level.
He played basketball in high school before signing on with Pitt as a defensive end. Making a switch to the offensive line in 2013, T.J. Clemmings soon became a dominant force in quarterback protection.
"HIGH SCHOOL: Despite playing only two seasons of high school football at Paterson Catholic, Clemmings earned status as the top overall prospect in New Jersey…Scout rated him the No. 1 overall player in New Jersey and the nation’s No. 6 defensive end prospect…rated the country’s No. 38 player overall by Scout…PrepStar “Dream Team”…rated one of the country’s top 50 overall prospects by PrepStar…SuperPrep All-American…ranked by Rivals as the state’s No. 2 prospect and the country’s No. 16 strongside defensive end…also established himself as a Division I prospect in basketball and had scholarship offers from Big East schools Providence and Seton Hall…collected 73 tackles, seven sacks and seven forced fumbles as a senior…All-New Jersey…All-New Jersey Non-Public…North Jersey Defensive Player of the Year…All-Passaic County…All-BPSL (Bergen-Passaic Scholastic League) Carpenter Division…led team to back-to-back Non-Public Group 1 state championships…his senior year the Cougars went a perfect 11-0 en route to the title…Clemmings spearheaded a defense that notched five shutouts and yielded just 41 points on the year (3.7 points per game)…played under Coach Benjie Wimberly.2010: Lettered as a true freshman, playing in eight games as a reserve defensive end…had three tackles and one TFL on the year…had season-high two stops at Notre Dame…had a three-yard TFL at Syracuse.2011: Did not play in any games and redshirted.2012: Playing defensive end, appeared in eight games and started six…totaled 20 tackles and one TFL…had career-high eight stops at Buffalo…moved to the offensive line during bowl game prep but did not play in the BBVA Compass Bowl vs. Ole Miss.2013: In his first full season on the offensive line, started all 13 games at right tackle.2014: One of Pitt’s most decorated offensive linemen in recent years…the Panthers’ starting right tackle in all 13 games, Clemmings was named a second team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and Phil Steele…selected first team All-ACC by both the media and head coaches…was a three-time ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honoree (Boston College, Virginia Tech and Duke games)…selected to play in the prestigious Senior Bowl…making his accomplishments even more impressive was the fact that Clemmings did not play offensive line until his redshirt junior year…voted Pitt’s offensive captain for the 2014 season…finished career as a four-year letterman."
NFL Scouting Combine measurements:
Weight: 309 LBS
Arm Length: 35 1/8 inches
Hands: 10 3/8 inches
40-yard dash: 5.14 secs (7th among OL)
Bench press (225 LBS): 22 reps
Vertical jump: 32.5 inches (2nd)
Broad jump: 111.0 inches (3rd)
3-cone drill: 7.68 secs (9th)
20-yard shuffle: 4.54 secs (4th)
While T.J. Clemmings could wind up the best tackle in this year’s rookie class, he is still a bit inexperienced at his position. He’ll need to grow stronger and gain more experience at practice before facing pass rushers in the NFL, but his athleticism and level of accomplishment in such a short time will likely keep him in the first round of the draft.
He’s best suited at left tackle, however, Armstead looks to hold down that spot for the long run. If right tackle Zach Strief can’t regain his step in 2015, Clemmings has the potential to give him a run for his money if the New Orleans Saints do decide to bring the Pittsburgh standout’s talents to the Big Easy. He’s an intriguing prospect, but the Black and Gold may want to target somebody with guard and tackle position flexibility like LSU‘s La’el Collins or Hobart‘s Ali Marpet.
More from Who Dat Dish
- 3 takeaways from Saints unofficial depth chart ahead of preseason opener
- Saints 2022 Training Camp: Top 5 takeaways from Day 13
- 3 things to know about new Saints QB K.J. Costello
- Kirk Merritt could be a difficult player for the Saints to cut
- Kareem Hunt is an interesting trade prospect but should Saints go for it?