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Let’s Have A Talk About Charles Clay

clay

Dustin Keller shredded his knee into an otherworldly oblivion. It sucks for him, and fantasy owners who were counting on him for cheap TE production. Keller was the only real redzone option on the Miami Dolphins and his expected production far outweighed his minimal cost. That advantage is gone, and in the wake of Keller’s shredded knee lies an opportunity for an able-bodied and versatile H-Back/Tight End by the name of Charles Clay.

Unlike Micheal Egnew, the other tight end option on the roster, Clay was never verbally berated by the coaching staff and threatened to be kicked off the roster on national television (Egnew was famously a whipping boy on Hard Knocks). Given the potential to fulfill the Keller role as a redzone weapon and his general versatility, it’s helpful to see what Clay is capable of.

Clay’s Measureables

Height (in) Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Speed Score Bench Press Vert Leap (in) Broad Jump (in) Shuttle 3Cone Agility Score
75 245 4.69 101.2 18 33.5 118 4.15 7.07 11.22

As you can see, there isn’t anything particularly special about Clay as an athlete. He is decently athletic for his size, posting a slightly above average speed score at 245 pounds, and his 11.22 agility score is actually better than fantasy football favorite, Shane Vereen. However, nothing about his measurables particularly stands out, other than that he is proficient at everything and doesn’t lack any needed skill.

College Production

Clay has mostly played as a tight end and as a receiver in his NFL career. He has yet to record a rushing attempt in the NFL and probably never will, but he was actually an effective rusher for Tulsa in his CFB career.

Receiving Rushing
Year Class Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD
*2007 FR 69 1024 14.8 7 57 304 5.3 1
*2008 SO 38 464 12.2 9 25 145 5.8 2
2009 JR 39 530 13.6 5 63 236 3.7 7
*2010 SR 43 526 12.2 7 34 226 6.6 0
Career 189 2544 13.5 28 179 911 5.1 10
Provided by Sports-Reference.com/CFB: View Original Table
Generated 8/23/2013.

His freshmen year was actually when he was utilized the most as a runner and as a receiver. He gained over 1,300 total yards and 8 scores as a freshmen, which is pretty impressive. Given that we know he is capable of rushing for 5 yards a pop in college, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume that he’s capable of moving well with the ball in his hands, for what that is worth. Clay’s Heat Map gives us a better look at his abilities as a receiver.

clayheatmap

Clay was never the most prominent weapon while playing in Conference USA, so his market share numbers are a little concerning, and for our purposes, we are most looking at his final college season. As we learned during the Cordarelle Patterson debacle, it’s pretty hard to nail down an accurate Market Share number for players who are useful as both runners and receivers, because we aren’t able to create a clear, predictive picture. Therefore, I think the numbers that are best viewed in that table are his Redzone Touchdown Rates.

In 2 seasons, Clay converted over half of his redzone targets into touchdowns, and in his penultimate season, he converted 37% of his redzone looks into touchdowns. For our fantasy purposes, that’s pretty important. The reason most drafters were taking advantage of Keller late in drafts was because they believed in his ability to score touchdowns. It would appear that Clay actually offers that same sort of upside. None of the weapons that Miami has are above average, or even average options in the redzone. At 6’3, 245, Clay is basically the best option that the Dolphins have (actually taller than Keller by an inch), if they end up being intelligent enough to use him that way. It’s worth noting that Clay has translated his redzone success in limited time in the NFL.

For his NFL career, Clay has converted 6 redzone targets into 5 catches and 3 touchdowns. When the field gets smaller, Clay’s versatility, ability as a runner and general usefulness against smaller corners or slower linebackers makes him a viable option for the Dolphins. Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman named Clay the starting tight end and stated “He’ll play in a bunch of different packages.”  The Dolphins are not the most intelligent of teams; signing Mike Wallace to an extravagant contract, giving carries to Daniel Thomas, having an actual trash can as their left tackle. These are all things smart NFL teams don’t do. However, featuring Clay in a more prominent role in an offensive in need of talented playmakers is a step in right direction.

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