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Clive Walford, the senior tight end from the University of Miami, enters the 2015 NFL Draft after being named Third Team All-American at the conclusion of the 2014 season. He was also recognized as a Second Team All-ACC performer following a year that totaled 44 catches, 676 yards and 7 TDs. For his career, Walford secured 121 receptions, 1,753 yards and 14 TDs. Overall, Walford played in 48 games with 35 starts at “The U.” He participated in the 2014 Senior Bowl and elevated his stock after a week of impressive practices. Physically, Walford is a big and thick tight end who is an evenly distributed 251 lbs. He’s not the most rocked-up prospect, but he carries his weight well and presents with fluid and effective game speed. Athletically, Walford was somewhat of a disappointment at the 2015 NFL Combine but his game film suggests a coordinated and quicker than average pass catching tight end. He doesn’t possess the kind of speed that suggests he’ll be a rare mismatch in the NFL, but he does have the requisite quickness and burst into his routes needed to make plays in the pros. He excels in the intermediate passing game, especially when targeted on seam routes. Walford is a savvy route runner who sells his head and shoulder fakes while planting a hard jab step to make the defender commit to the outside. Once he works himself free, he’s a reliable pass catcher who runs with a physical style after the catch. He’ll need to get stronger at the catch point, as he tends to lose more than he should on contested balls; He too often lets the ball hit the ground after defenders slap and smack at his wrists and forearms. In the run game, Walford is a willing blocker who flashes the ability to step and seal well. He’s not the most powerful guy, though, and tends to lose his ground when he’s asked to get his nose dirty from an in-line perspective. His performance at the Senior Bowl was exceptional, as he was virtually uncoverable in one-on-one’s; He showed his ‘football athleticism’ and field quicks which will likely be overlooked as a result of his less than stellar Combine performance.
BOTTOM LINE: Clive Walford is a gamer. He wasn’t utilized as much as he probably should have been during his time at Miami, and he’s likely to have a more productive pro career than what his collegiate numbers suggest. He reminds me of Desmond Clark, the former Broncos and Bears tight end who made a living in the intermediate passing attack. Walford will offer a lot of upside in the red zone, as his ability to shake the defender on mid-level, quick throws will be a real asset. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll end up as a starting tight end in the NFL sooner than later, and while he might never become one of the game’s elite pass catching weapons, he’ll certainly evolve into an integral part of an offense’s gameplan.
Grade: 7.5 (2nd Round)
-Submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)