Jan 2, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Brennan Clay (24) runs as Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (6) pursues during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Oklahoma defeated Alabama 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
As we continue to piece together the Denver Broncos’ roster after the draft, I want to take a more in-depth look at all of the rookies including the college free agents that were brought in.
We’ve already taken a pretty in-depth look at some of the players, which you can view here:
When the Broncos went into day three of the 2014 NFL Draft having not yet selected a running back, I figured a player being picked at that position was a near certainty. After all, the Broncos entered the offseason workouts with Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman, and C.J. Anderson as the only returning veterans. There’s not a ton of experience there between the three of them.
That having been said, the Broncos haven’t wavered in their confidence in Montee Ball to carry a full workload, and their faith that Ronnie Hillman’s talent will overtake his fumbling troubles and inability to show his breakaway speed within an actual game setting.
Either way, I think the door was left open for an undrafted free agent to again make this Denver Broncos team at the running back position. While everyone has been touting local prospect Kapri Bibbs for his 31 touchdowns and monster sophomore season for the Rams in 2013, I think the other two guys have been a bit unfairly overlooked. The player I want to look at right now is Oklahoma’s Brennan Clay, a versatile back who can offer the Broncos just that — someone who can do it all.
Here’s what you need to know about Clay, how he fits with the Broncos, and how he can make the team.
Wt: 202 lbs.
Bench: 21 reps
- Quick to shoot the gaps as a thinner back
- Good toughness
- Willing blocker
- Solid in pass pro
- Has experience returning kicks
- Played some WR and showed ability to catch passes out of the backfield
- Solid vision
- Good one-cut and burst style runner
- Experience in a varied offensive attack
- Led Oklahoma in rushing despite huge rotation at position and dual-threat QBs
- Also led OU backs in receptions
- Described as ‘gym rat’
- Very solid athlete
- Good patience as a runner
Areas of Weakness
- Not a burner
- Doesn’t break a ton of tackles
- Not a pile-dragger
- Doesn’t have ideal size/bulk
- Not flashy as a RB
What Clay Brings to the Table
I think Clay is a back that fits well with a zone scheme and has the ability to patiently wait for and take what is given to him. He’s not a burner, and he doesn’t try to make a lot of guys miss in the open field always. He seems to do a great job of taking what the defense gives, and he offers your team the ability to catch passes out of the backfield, return kicks, and do everything pretty well.
Clay might not be Adrian Peterson but he’s a solid back coming from a decorated program. Even with a logjam at the RB position and two dual-threat QBs, he was able to lead the team in rushing and lead all backs in catches.
Most importantly for the Broncos in the immediate, I think Clay offers the ability to pass protect. There were plenty of times you noticed him sticking his body out there in the running game and if he can learn protections quickly, he could be a player the Broncos target as a very dependable #3 or #4 tailback with his ability to catch passes, take what the defense gives him, and pass protect.
This is a hard-working player that is highly talked about in terms of his work ethic. Obviously not every undrafted rookie is going to make the team, no matter how much optimism we have for every prospect the Broncos evaluate. Still, it’s fun to root for these kids and find the reasons why they were picked up by a phenomenal organization, and why they will be given a chance to compete. I think Clay is stepping into a good situation where there will certainly be competition and an open slot at training camp.