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Micheal Clemons Brings 'Edge' to Jets Defensive Line

GM Joe Douglas Uses Fourth-Round Draft Pick to Add Some ‘Nasty’ 


Micheal Clemons' position is listed as edge rusher. In fact, the Jets, with their selection in the fourth round (No. 117 overall) of last week's NFL Draft, may have landed themselves an "edgy" rusher.

After drafting Clemons out of Texas A&M, Jets general manager Joe Douglas called him "one of the nastier players in the entire draft."

Douglas added: "We don't think you can have enough of that on this team."

You'll get no argument from Clemons, the fire-breathing, quarterback-hunting defensive end who at 6-5, 265 pounds and a 35-inch wing span who has the potential to give head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich a key element in their rotation on the defensive line.

During his time at the lectern as the Jets rookies and undrafted free agents gathered at the Atlantic Health Jets Training center, Clemons came off as smart, thoughtful and candid about what motivates him, what makes him "nasty."

"It's just a switch in me,'' he said. "I turn it off when I'm getting ready to be a civilian again. It's who I am. On the field, animal. When I get off the field, I'm chilling and low key. As a defensive player, you need that nastiness. That's definitely one of the biggest assets to my game.

"I just have to make sure I turn that thing off when I walk off the field.''

In high school, Clemons first saw action at running back, then was switched to linebacker his senior year. But an injury left him with little tape to impress college coaches. So like many other players who eventually carve out NFL careers, Clemons' journey to the pros began at a junior college, in this case as a walk-on at Cisco (TX) Community College. His play was noticed by A&M coaches where he completed his career in College Station after playing in 39 games (25 starts), with 93 tackles, 12.5 sacks and 21 TFLs. In his final season with the Aggies, Clemons had 7 sacks and 11 TFLs.

For a big human being, Clemons did not project menace during his time answering questions. If anything, he listened intently, then paused as he gathered his thoughts and delivered answers that were, at the same time, charming and confident. He said that once he puts his mind to something -- like football -- he rarely deviates.

"As soon as I made the decision that football was what I wanted to do, I committed to it and I've always had faith that I would make it — even if it looked rocky, even if I wasn't recruited, even if I didn't get much playing time in high school,'' Clemons said about his decision ... when he was 8 years old. "The first game I ever watched on TV, I knew what I wanted to do. I think it was a Thanksgiving Day game and I forgot who was playing.

"But I said to myself, 'yeah, that's going to be me.' I never lost that faith in myself that it may not be smooth, but it's going to happen.''

The drafting of Clemons in the fourth round, and Douglas' savvy decision to move up back into the first round to nab Florida State DE Jermaine Johnson II adds depth and options on the Jets' defensive line. Saleh and Ulbrich like to change up the composition of the D-line, and now with the return from injury of Carl Lawson (Achilles tendon), the signings of Solomon Thomas and Jacob Martin in free agency, the re-signing of Vinny Curry (who missed last season due to injury) they have multiple options on the outside, a group that also features John Franklin-Myers includes Bryce Huff.

Generating a pass rush is one of Saleh's obsessions, and DT Quinnen Williams has led the team the past two seasons with 7 sacks in 2020 and 6 last season.

"I know a little bit about Jets history," Clemons said. "But I plan on making an impact no matter what the history was."

He added: "I'm ready to get to work."

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