In our Lottery Tickets series, we break down the lesser-known players who have a chance to make the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 1 roster. Leading up to training camp, we’ll be profiling the intriguing undrafted free agents and reserve/future contract players who show the potential to stick in the NFL.
Why is it called Lottery Tickets? The players we discuss are high-upside players that haven’t significantly affected the Chiefs’ bottom line — but their returns could be substantial.
Rodney Clemons, safety
6’ | 205 lbs | SMU
40 time: 4.71
NFL Combine: 33.5” vertical jump, 118” broad jump, 21 bench reps
2019 Stats: 77 tackles, 3 TFL, 4 INT, 9 PD
One sentence bio: Shrine Bowl participant, second-team All-AAC honoree with 50 career starts.
One sentence scouting report: A smart, instinctual safety with limited athleticism but a willingness to tackle and ball production in his career.
Safety Rodney Clemons may not have the best athletic profile but he's smart, competitive, has good ball skills and gives outstanding effort. pic.twitter.com/WUBhxV31VV— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) July 10, 2020
How he fits with the Chiefs: You may have noticed a trend with most of our Lottery Tickets, as many of them have limited athletic profiles but are good football players. That is the case with Clemons. There are concerns about his athletic profile working in the NFL — namely his 4.71 40-yard dash speed. You’re likely never going to be able to line Clemons up as a single-high safety and expect him to challenge passes from sideline to sideline. In a two-high structure, he’s more than capable — and has shown great instincts and football intelligence from deep.
Clemons is a willing tackler who was asked to operate in the box, the slot and deep at SMU. He’s going to do whatever is asked of him and will pick it up quickly thanks to a strong football IQ. That intelligence led to good ball production his final year with the Mustangs — four interceptions and nine pass break ups. Clemons shows good football character — a necessary characteristic for Lottery Tickets to stick on an NFL roster. Playing on special teams isn’t glamorous, but you have to have the mindset to do it — and Clemons appears to have that.
The bottom line
Clemons will be competing with the likes of Armani Watts to be a four-core special teams player and backup safety. He is not dissimilar from Watts coming out of college with some athleticism questions and ball production. While the long speed may not be enough, Clemons will give himself a chance to earn a spot on the roster thank to his willingness to do the little things required to earn a spot as an undrafted rookie. His competitive toughness will serve him well as the Chiefs start training camp.