From now until the 2023 NFL Draft , we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I will be profiling Louisville CDB Kei’Trel Clark.
#13 Kei’Trel Clark/DB Louisville – 5’10, 192
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Kei’Trel Clark||5’10, 181||8 1/4||29 5/8||N/A|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Split||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Extremely fluid athlete, twitchy feet in coverage, has nice footwork in his pedal
— Enters the league with positional versatility, was an All-ACC selection both as a boundary corner and as a slot corner in his final season
— Has solid straight-line speed, more than capable of carrying receivers vertically
— Extremely capable and willing run defender, play style should lend itself well to playing inside at the next level
— Works hard to stay square in off-coverage, trusts his ability to turn and run with any receiver
— Athleticism and twitch allows him to undercut intermediate routes with ease, generating takeaway opportunities
— Has a quick trigger and feel for when to blow up wide receiver screens, both from the slot and on the boundary
—Has a powerful punch when jamming in press coverage
—Has a nice feel in zone coverage, plays high to low and occupies throwing windows to force checkdowns
— Dominated in an All-Star setting during Shrine Bowl practices, was far and away the best defensive back of the group
— Has shown solid ability to time snap counts when blitzing off the edge
— Has great contact balance, does a nice job to fight through physicality at the top of routes and break downhill to contest the catch point
— Breaks efficiently from his crossover run, allowing him to effectively contest intermediate breaking routes from press coverage
— Can occasionally get caught flat-footed at the top of routes in off-man coverage
— Lack of prototype size can leave him susceptible to getting boxed out in jump ball/back shoulder situations
— Can be overpowered in the box when forced to take on blocks from larger framed players, can struggle to maintain gap responsibility in these situations
— Effort and pursuit angles from the backside could stand to improve
— Can be overzealous at times in the run and screen game, fails to square up targets, leading to missed tackles
— 167 tackles 13.5 TFLs 3 sacks 2 FRs 5 INTs 33 PDs 2 TDs
— 2022: 51 tackles 4 TFLs 1 sack 1 FR 1 INT 5 PDs 2 TDs
—2022 Third Team All-ACC
— 2021 Second Team All-ACC
— 2020 Second Team All-ACC
— Played his 2019 freshman season at Liberty before transferring to Louisville for his final three seasons
— Played predominantly on the boundary in 2020 and 2021 before moving into the slot more frequently in 2022
Ahead of the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl, I put together a list of the five cornerbacks that I would have my eye on during the practice week. Among that list was Louisville’s Kei’Trel Clark, a three-time All-ACC honoree at Louisville, exiting college with an impressive resume that included experience both in the slot and on the boundary.
With his dominant performance during Shrine Bowl practices, Kei’Trel Clark left Vegas as the best defensive back of the crop, showcasing his physicality, fluidity in coverage, and playmaking ability at the catch point. Clark was able to strengthen his resume further at the combine, posting healthy figures in both the 40-yard dash and 10-yard split, backing up the athleticism that shows up on tape.
Particularly after losing a versatile chess piece on the backend in Cam Sutton, Clark figures to be an interesting mid-round target that the Pittsburgh front office will have their eye on. When evaluating Clark’s Louisville tape, his ability to diagnose, trigger, and blow up screens is immediately apparent.
On the first rep below, working from depth to the wide stack, Clark perfectly times the snap count, creeping towards the line of scrimmage before triggering quickly to jet past the blocker and blow up the screen in the backfield. In fact, Clark knives into the backfield so quickly that he is able to break up the screen pass before it reaches the receiver’s hands. This is undoubtedly an example of film study and football IQ showing up on tape.
On the next rep, Clark does a nice job to come up from his boundary corner spot, maintain outside leverage, break down, and arrive at the point of contact with physicality to stop the back at the line of scrimmage, well short of the sticks. By nature, Clark is an extremely physical player. While his consistency needs to improve as a tackler, he has put plenty on tape to suggest that he will continue to develop and refine his technique in that department, a necessary trait as he will see himself playing on the inside at an increased rate at the next level.
Despite playing with a slight frame, Clark does a nice job of combating larger framed receivers at the top of their routes, using his superior contact balance to withstand push-offs and break downhill to contest the catch point. On the rep below, working in a press coverage matchup against the large-framed Emeka Emezie, a 2022 Shrine Bowl attendee, Clark does a nice job to fight through a push-off at the top of the comeback route and break downhill to undercut the receiver at the catch point, nearly securing an interception.
Clark’s ability to break effectively from a crossover run allows him to easily contest intermediate breaking routes from press coverage. His fluid movement skills and high-level contact balance allow him to challenge larger-framed players, making him effective in coverage both on the boundary and in the slot.
Clark’s ability to withstand contact similarly makes him effective from off and catch-man alignments. Working in catch-man coverage in the boundary against the talented Zay Flowers, Clark shows great patience, working to stay square and stand his ground as the receiver works to threaten his cushion.
At the top of the route, Clark is briefly knocked off balance by significant contact from the crafty receiver, but shows insane balance to gather his feet, transition downhill, close to the catch point, and undercut the comeback for a nice pass breakup. Clark’s confidence and trust in his ability to turn and run allows him to stay patient and challenge receivers at all three levels of the field.
Clark’s tackling ability and quick trigger show up when defending the run game as well. Operating primarily as a boundary corner and slot corner, particularly with the widened hashes at the college level, Clark was often forced to factor into Louisville’s run fits, even occasionally being asked to blitz off the edge.
Working as the boundary corner to a nub tight end set against BC, Clark perfectly executes a crack/replace, triggering quickly and squeezing tight off the tight end’s hip to drop the back just past the line of scrimmage for a minimal gain. When engaged, Clark is willing and capable of executing anything asked of him in the run game, a trait that could help him become an every-down slot defender at the next level.
Similarly, Clark consistently did a solid job of getting involved in runs that bounced to the edge, correcting the fits of his linebackers in their attempts to spill blocks, and tackling effectively on the edge. On the rep below, Clark folds inside from the field corner spot, closing space, coming to balance to force the back to change direction and work laterally, and aiming low for a nice leg tackle.
Clark’s ability to consistently make impact plays in the run game is part of what makes his occasional lapses in effort and technique so frustrating. Here, working as the overhang defender near the goal line against BC, Clark is once again put into a crack/replace situation, with Zay Flowers executing a crack block on the Cardinals’ outside linebacker.
This time, however, Clark triggers downhill too quickly, leaving him in an unathletic position, unable to match a nice cut from the Boston College running back. For as many good reps as he has on tape as a run defender, there are far too many like this one, allowing a back to cut past his face and work into the second level untouched.
While Clark’s contact balance allows him to effectively stay in phase and contest the catch point against larger framed receivers, his lack of prototype size, arm length, and leaping ability can allow him to get boxed out at the catch point. Below, working in a redzone press man coverage assignment against a cut split receiver, Clark does a nice job to establish contact with a two-hand jam, working to get chest to chest and putting himself in phase to contest the jump ball.
Nonetheless, Clark fails to elevate and contest the ball at its highest point, rather staying grounded and allowing the receiver to extend and secure the ball outside of his reach. While I often caution against focusing on testing numbers, the combination of sub 30” arms and a sub 35” vertical jump will certainly make it tough for Clark to contest in jump ball and back shoulder situations.
Overall, I came out of Shrine Bowl practice week convinced that Kei’Trel Clark will carve out a long and productive career in the NFL. Having the opportunity to interview him, it was abundantly clear that he was an extremely high-IQ player, able to adequately explain different coverage schemes and his film study habits at a uniquely advanced level for a player of his age.
Watching him in Vegas, I couldn’t help but think of former Baltimore Raven, Tavon Young, who was extremely productive and versatile before seeing his career derailed by injuries. Similar to Young, I see Clark serving as a versatile sub-package chess piece, capable of working in the slot or as a dimebacker, along with providing depth as a boundary cornerback. Likewise, Clark has the necessary athleticism, effort, and physicality to contribute on special teams early in his career.
If Pittsburgh ultimately chooses to select one of the draft’s top-end boundary corners with a high draft pick, Clark is the perfect type of player to target later in the draft, capable of filling the team’s need for an every-down Nickel. Wherever he winds up, I strongly believe that Kei’Trel Clark’s professionalism, football IQ, and instincts, will help him carve out a lengthy and productive career at the NFL level.
Projection: Early to Mid Day 2
Depot Draft Grade: 7.7-Potential Starter/Good Backup (3rd Round)
Games Watched: at Boston College (2022), at UCF (2022), vs Boston College (2021), at NC State (2021), live at Shrine Bowl Practices