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Vikings' 4th-round pick Clemmings called a draft steal with huge upside


T.J. Clemmings played only two seasons as an offensive lineman in college, but he was good enough in a short period of time to be considered one of the best tackles in the draft.

Considering that Mike Mayock had Clemmings No. 1 on his draft board for tackles, it's no wonder that Minnesota's selection of him in the fourth round of the draft is being considered a steal.

Mayock thinks Clemmings could be a day one starter at right tackle for the Vikings, although that job currently belongs to Phil Loadholt.

Pro Football Focus unveiled its list of 10 draft steals and Clemmings made the cut. PFF's reasoning:

"Clemmings’ foot could very well be a serious issue that scared off NFL teams, but we can’t speak to that. If you look at his physical traits alone he would have been a first round pick. The more I watch Clemmings, the more difficult it becomes to discern the gap between him and Brandon Scherff in terms of draft position. Both are likely guards to start off with in the NFL and both have freakish qualities against the run. No tackle was better last season at finding linebackers in space and engaging. Clemmings’ long 35 1/8” arms might as well be Inspector Gadget’s the way he latches on and stops defenders in their tracks.

"The Pittsburgh tackle finished with the highest run blocking grade among all tackles last season. His pass protection issues, especially at the Senior Bowl, kept him out of the first round, but Clemmings potential is so high that he shouldn’t have made it past the second day of the draft."

The reason he fell in the draft: the revelation of a past stress fracture in his foot that could have long-term effects.

Former Gophers offensive line coach Jim Hueber coached Clemmings the past two seasons at the University of Pittsburgh, but he said he had no idea of the stress fracture and it didn't impact Clemmings' performance at all.

"He just was there all the time, played every game for us, never complained about anything," Hueber told Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune.

Clemmings can't even remember when the injury occurred.

"It's been mind boggling,'' Mike McCartney told New Jersey Advance Media. "The foot has never caused him any pain. He's never done any rehab on it. He doesn't even remember hurting it."

McCartney thought Clemmings would get picked in the first round, or at the very worst, second round.

Former Vikings quarterback Brooks Bollinger coached at Pittsburgh during Clemmings' junior season. In a text message to BringMeTheNews he described Clemmings as "very talented and athletic." Bollinger added that Clemmings "works hard" and was "fun to coach."

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