The Dallas Cowboys have made a habit of taking chances on young linebackers in the NFL draft coming off a major injury or with a worrisome injury history. Names like Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith immediately come to mind. And 2022 was no different.
In the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected LSU linebacker Damone Clark with the 176th overall selection. During the NFL Scouting Combine, it was discovered that Clark had a herniated disc in his neck that would require surgery. That caused his draft stock to plummet.
Coming out of LSU, Clark was considered by many to be a Top 100 selection, possibly even a late first round pick. That after he ranked fourth in the FBS in tackles (135 in 12 starts) and led the Tigers with 15.5 tackles for loss. Clark also had 5.5 sacks. He earned first-team All-SEC honors, was named a second-team All-American and was a finalist for the Butkus Award.
Currently, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound rookie linebacker is on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list (NFI) in Dallas recovering from having spinal-fusion surgery in late March. In April, Cowboys executive vice president, Stephen Jones, expressed belief that Clark could play at some point during his rookie season in Dallas.
Cowboys insider from 105.3 The Fan, Bryan Broaddus, talked about Clark and what the team will be getting once the young linebacker prospect returns to the field on a recent episode of The Break podcast on the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network.
“When [Damone Clark] comes off that NFI list, you’re going to see a real man, I mean a real man football player. There’s a possibility that maybe the second half of the season that you might see him play. So that’s the things that they were working to try and get him ready for the second half of the season … he can run, he’s physical, he tackles well, he’s tough, he can cover. I mean they stole him. If he doesn’t have the back injury … this guy would have been a late one or early two pick in the draft. He’s that kind of player.”Bryan Broaddus on Damone Clark via The Break podcast
Currently, the linebacker corps in Dallas includes Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch, Anthony Barr, Jabril Cox, Luke Gifford, and rookie Devin Harper. It’s one of the most complete positional groups on the roster. Having someone like Damone Clark waiting in the wings for the Dallas Cowboys says a lot about the future of the linebacker position in Big D.