Corey Clement Disappointed by Not Being Drafted, But Glad to Be With Eagles

An undrafted running back having success in the NFL is far from unprecedented.

Priest Holmes was a three-time All-Pro with the Kansas City Chiefs. He led the league in rushing in 2001 and in rushing touchdowns in 2002 and 2003. Arian Foster was also an All-Pro with the Texans in 2010, the year he led the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns.

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The expectations may not be quite that high for Glassboro, N.J. native Corey Clement, but the Eagles thought enough of the Wisconsin product to sign him to a deal.

"Being able to play home," Clement said when asked what was appealing about the Eagles. "Growing up near Philadelphia and being able to represent my family and friends in the right manner. There was no hesitation where I wanted to go."

The Eagles' running back situation is murky. Second-year player Wendell Smallwood flashed at times during his rookie season, but the jury is still out on his ability to be an every-down back. They also have veteran Darren Sproles and fourth-round pick Donnel Pumphrey. Both backs bring talent but lack size.

Enter Clement, the 220-pounder who ran for 1,375 yards during his senior season with the Badgers. If the Eagles choose to carry four backs, Clement would make sense as a back that can run between the tackles and be used in short-yardage situations.

The Eagles' need for a running back with size and Clement's familiarity inside the Eagles' organization made for a perfect match. 

"Obviously, he's a bigger back," head coach Doug Pederson said. "He's physical. He's a guy that we know obviously, being from the area. It's exciting to get guys like that in here who we kind of have a little history with.

"So it's great to have those connections to know those guys and to get him in here and get him going and get him working just to see where he's at. (Clement's) someone that could hopefully potentially fill [a spot] and create some competition for us."

This year's running back draft class was incredibly deep. Thirty running backs were taken, but Clement was not one of them. After a successful senior season in the Big Ten - including big games against Ohio State and Penn State - Clement seemed destined to have his name called by the middle rounds, at worst.

But 253 names were called right across the bridge and Clement was left to ponder why his name wasn't. He certainly was disappointed but is now focusing on what he can to help the team that's giving him a shot.

"I wish I knew," Clement said when asked why he wasn't drafted. "I sat through the draft in confusion and shock as to why I didn't get picked up by a team. But I think God put me on this team for a reason. I think I can make the most of my ability here. Play right at home and use that humbleness and use this chip to step out onto the field every day."

Clement wasn't the only one who thought he would be drafted. 

"The thing is it was such a deep draft of running backs," Pederson said. "We had a draftable grade on him. He's somebody that as the draft winds down you look for guys that either slip through the cracks or guys that have potential opportunities. He's one of the guys we felt (we should) give him a chance."

There's been speculation the Eagles could trade for a proven back in a logjam like the Saints' Mark Ingram or the Bengals' Jeremy Hill. Both players would certainly fit the need for a bigger back, but their respective teams aren't going to just give them away. They could also wait until later in the offseason and see if an intriguing veteran back gets released. 

Clement has a long way to go to emulate Holmes or Foster, but he hopes he can impress the Eagles enough to end the speculation and earn a spot in their running back committee.

"Very realistic," Clement said when asked about his chances of making the team. "If I was to think otherwise, I shouldn't be on this team. I have to have some kind of confidence in making a name for myself. Nothing's going to be handed to me. I have to come out here every day, show what kind of true character I have, approach everything with a smile and just know that you've got to work for everything."

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