Green Bay Packers second-year receiver Michael Clark enters 2018 looking to provide quarterback Aaron Rodgers with a weapon unlike anything he’s ever had.
Wide receiver will be one of the most closely watched position battles at this year’s training camp. The Green Bay Packers drafted three prospects hoping to improve their chances of filling the void left by veteran Jordy Nelson who was let go by the team in March. Rookies J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous St. Brown are intriguing storylines as they try to get acclimated with NFL life and their role within a new offense. However, it’s fellow receiver Michael Clark who shouldn’t go unnoticed as he continues his pursuit of proving doubters wrong.
Clark was on a hiatus from the game of football before returning a few years ago with aspirations of having a productive NFL career. He has a decent shot at 6-foot-6 and 217 pounds seeing that Aaron Rodgers has never thrown to a target as physically gifted as Clark. Though his abilities are still raw, Clark will be one player to keep an eye on for a second-year jump.
Clark played only one year of college football at Marshall University before going undrafted in 2017. He was an intriguing prospect as a former college basketball player who strayed away from football in high school. Still, Clark was able to use his size and athleticism to be productive in spite of a long absence. He finished the 2016 season with 37 receptions, 632 yards, and five touchdowns.
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Building off a successful return, his athleticism was on full display throughout last year’s training camp as Clark gave corners fits with his capability to challenge every ball using his size and leaping ability.
Veteran Davon House was one of the first players to commend the undrafted rookie who was quickly turning heads on offense.
“It’s just trying to out-jump him. It’s almost impossible. I don’t think anyone has won a jump ball with him this year so far,” House said.
However, Clark’s shortcomings as a route-runner eventually landed him on the Packers practice squad until week 13.
Inactive for his first three games, Clark finally saw the field Week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings. Already eliminated from the postseason, Green Bay had nothing to lose in seeing what they had in the impressive prospect.
Clark made the most of his NFL debut catching three passes for 36 yards including a diving grab early in the fourth quarter.
Clark’s first season ended with four catches for 41 yards in only 75 snaps.
The potential is there, but Clark will have to put it all together if he wants to be on the Packers final 53-man roster. They took a chance on him last offseason and liked enough of what they saw to sign him to an extensive rights tenure earlier this year.
Green Bay has never had a receiver of Clark’s stature who compares favorably to All-Pro receiver Mike Evans. Evans who is 6-foo-5 and 230 pounds, was a top 10 pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2014 draft and has since eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in all four seasons.
Obviously, Clark has a ways to go to reach Evans’ impact, but the tangibles are there for him to be successful. The Packers got a taste of this when they simulated Clark as Evans prior to their Week 13 match-up.
Again, House found himself facing a lanky Clark who was trying to emulate Evans within Tampa Bay’s offense.
“They’re both really hard to guard. Clark is going to be phenomenal, I’m telling you now,” House said.
House also added that he sees a similar talent level in Clark as he does in Evans.
Clark took strides over the course of his rookie year and has a golden opportunity to step in an contribute for the upcoming season. Rodgers will be looking build chemistry with the young guys and Clark already has the benefit of spending a year working with the MVP quarterback.
Training camp is days away and we are only a few short weeks away from Green Bay’s first preseason game vs the Tennessee Titans on August 9th. This will be our first glance at the improvements Clark has made ahead of his second season.