Seahawks GM John Schneider has said that domestic violence is the deal-breaker for any player his team might be interested in selecting. That makes the Seahawks' first pick of the 2015 NFL draft all the more interesting, because Frank Clark was dismissed from the Michigan program in November of last year after he was arrested for allegedly striking his girlfriend in a hotel room. He was also arrested for stealing a laptop in 2012
"I don’t want to get into too much detail," Clark said when asked about the incident at the scouting combine. "The detail I did get into I did with NFL teams. When we were in the room, the person involved let something get out of hand and took something further than what it was planned. You look at a phone and nowadays these phones get a lot of people in trouble. I’m not saying I’m a womanizer or anything of that nature. I’m just saying it was a confrontation between me and one of my friends and the woman involved took it to another level that it shouldn’t have been taken to. That’s fine. I’m not throwing her under the bus. I’m not saying she did anything wrong. I’m just saying that a lot of things that happened in that room that night could have been avoided."
Clark is a talented player with pass-rush ability, but he's seen as a fourth- to fifth-round prospect with his off-field issues, and this is a weird pick with so many talented players left on the board.
Strengths: He's an explosive rusher. His bull rush was incredibly effective, as he could consistently drive his blocker backwards to make plays in the backfield. Clark plays with great athleticism—he posted a 38.5-inch vertical, 7.08-second three-cone drill, 4.05-second 20-yard shuttle drill and 11.22-second 60-yard shuttle at the combine and ran a 4.64-second 40-yard dash at his pro day—and derives his power from his speed. That quickness also allows him to simply run around the edge to get to the quarterback.
Weaknesses: If Clark could only develop some effective moves, he’d be the total on-field package. Without them, he’s limited to as far as his athleticism can take him, which will hinder him against quicker NFL tackles. And there are the major character red flags. Clark was invited to the combine, so he got the chance to meet with NFL teams to try to convince them that he shouldn’t be defined by his mistakes. Time will tell how persuasive he was.
Player comparison: Derek Wolfe
Clark, who spoke with the Seattle media from his home in Cleveland after he was drafted, said that he'd been training at EXOS in California since he was kicked off the team. I asked him if he'd been in counseling since the incident, and he revealed that he had already been in counseling before it happened—he mentioned that he was concerned about certain members of his family asking about money and other things after he came into the NFL.
"I simply kept it real with them," Clark said about what he told the Seahawks when they grilled him about everything. "One thing I don't do, is I don't pride myself in lying. I tell the truth, because once you lie, it's followed by a lie and followed by another lie."
Clark was very gregarious, but as much as his answers seemed scripted to a point, he had trouble admitting to wrongdoing—just as he had at the combine.
"I believe I was wrong, and I am sorry," he said. "And the main reason I am is that I put myself in a position where I shouldn't have been. I'm not saying I did anything wrong as far as putting my hands on a woman, because the case played out the way it did, but I do apologize to everyone it may have affected."
It was hard for Clark to wrap his mind around personal responsibility—or, at least that's how it seemed—and it may be equally tough for Seahawks fans to wrap their minds around the idea that Clark is their team's new star edge-rusher.