Former Valley standout Clemons leaves lasting impression
Pro days can lead to pay days in the NFL.
One head-turning performance by a college standout can draw that fine line between the beginnings of a pro career and selling insurance for a living.
Valley grad Toney Clemons had one of those attention-grabbing pro days earlier this month in Boulder, Colo., and it could have unlocked a door into the NFL.
"It came down to 80 yards," said Clemons, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound wide receiver who wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine but played in a senior all-star game in Arkansas. "Two 40 (-yard dashes). I had a quiet confidence and was ready to compete that day."
The Colorado grad blistered the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds -- the fastest 40 time in the former track star's career.
"Officially, it's the fastest," said Clemons, 23. "You have some great athletes running the 10 split in 1.50 or 1.49. I did it in 1.47. You want to be able to perform when it counts most."
A tidy performance, which also saw decent ratings in the broad jump, 20- and 60-yard shuttle runs and position drills, caught the attention of draft gurus.
"With a terrific pro day workout, Clemons demonstrated the combination of size and all-around athleticism to intrigue any NFL scout," said Rob Rang, senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, a partner of CBSSports.com. "In not gaining an invitation to the scouting combine, Clemons was viewed by scouts as late as a month ago as unlikely to be drafted. The pro day workout, in itself, won't guarantee that Clemons will be drafted, but it will force clubs to take a longer look."
Clemons, who started his career at Michigan, transferred and sat out a year per NCAA rules, had productive junior and senior seasons at Colorado.
A rarity in that he played in three conferences, Clemons had back-to-back 43-catch seasons, with a career-high 680 yards and eight touchdowns in his final year.
"I have the draftable grades," Clemons said. "To be picked would be a great thing. I feel I have done what I needed to do. It's incredible to be in a position where I once saw myself getting to."
Now, the wait. The draft is April 26-28.
Clemons is finished working out for teams but has sit-down meetings planned with Jacksonville on April 9 and the Steelers on April 18.
Clemons said he has been contacted by every team except the Patriots and Giants.
Usually, those pre-draft meetings involve talks with general managers and head coaches.
"A lot of guys don't get those visits," Clemons said. "I feel fortunate to have those opportunities."
Clemons' stock is rising. After the solid pro day workout, he went from the No. 82 ranking to 71 out of 347 wideout prospects on the NFLdraftscout.com's board.
Some mock drafts, like the one at DraftSite.com, have Clemons going in the sixth round to the 49ers.
Should the draft come and go with no phone call, Clemons could latch on as a free agent.
"Considering Clemons' emergence as a playmaker in his senior season and athletic upside, a late-round selection or -- at minimum -- invitation to a camp as an undrafted free agent now seems likely," Rang said.
Clemons is open to any avenue that gets him into the league.
"I just want to play," Clemons said. "Anywhere. It's a dream job."
NFL Draft file
Who : Toney Clemons
Position : Wide receiver
High school : Valley
Colleges : Michigan/Colorado