Chris Clemons, a 6-1 214 pound strong safety, was drafted during the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of the University of Clemson. Clemons was seen as a project, but an eventual starting caliber safety for any team willing to take a chance. The Miami Dolphins saw some potential and pulled the trigger. After contributing little during his rookie campaign, Clemons was handed a starting spot next to former Miami Dolphin – Yeremiah Bell. Clemons had an inconsistent season and seemed unready for his new role – if only Miami’s front office could have seen the future…Clemons was then relegated to a back-up and special teams role for the 2011 season – playing in 14 games and not starting a single one.
With Yeremiah Bell leaving via free agency for the rival New York Jets following the 2011 season, Clemons was looked at as Bell’s replacement – many, including myself, felt very concerned about this move. Clemons had shown some promise in the past, but was always a headache in coverage.
Surprise! Clemons actually had quite a productive season for the Miami Dolphins– something every player needs in a contract year! Clemons started all 16 games for Miami recording 99 total tackles (72 solo – which is quite impressive for a safety), 4 pass deflections and two key interceptions (both coming against the rival New York Jets).
Although Clemons did have quite a productive season for Miami, he justified our concerns to begin the season. Clemons missed numerous key tackles and played at the inconsistent level we all know – it honestly seemed like he was afraid to tackle oncoming ball carriers. He was as about inconsistent as it gets to begin the season. Once again, I thought Miami had made a mistake not replacing him during the offseason.
One play that sticks in my mind…
Clemons took a horrible angle causing a long touchdown by a back-up running back..Hmm, seemed like a theme for Clemons early on. Scared to make a play?
Once November hit, Clemons seemed like a brand new player – posting 58 of his 99 tackles during the months of November and December. Miami’s strong safety was flying around making plays in the run game left and right. He posted two of his best games against Buffalo and Jacksonville – gathering 10 tackles in each game against two “Run Heavy” offenses.
Clemons, now a free agent, is a player Miami must truly evaluate this offseason. Losing him would create another hole for the Miami Dolphins to fill. On the flip side, he may want too much money given his productive season. If the Dolphins can talk Clemons down to the money he deserves, rather than the money he wants, there would be no reason not to bring the former Clemson Tiger back for his 5th season with the squad.
Overall, Clemons gave me some huge headaches to begin the season. Playing at an inconsistent level every week is not a way to become a fan favorite, especially when safety was a huge concern during the offseason. BUT, after he began playing like a safety should, he became quite a pleasant surprise. As of now, there is no reason Chris Clemons should not be in a Miami uniform next season.
Player Grade: First half – D- / Second Half – B+
———-ALL STATISTICS TAKEN FROM NFL.COM———-