Matchup To Watch

December 31, 2006

Ravens receiver Mark Clayton vs. Bills cornerback Nate Clements

George Kokinis, the Ravens' pro personnel director, sizes up today's critical matchup against the Bills:

The players

Clayton is having a breakthrough season in his second year, leading the Ravens in receiving yards (913) and ranking second in receptions (65). Over the past three weeks, he has two 100-yard receiving games and has scored two touchdowns.

Clayton was the fifth receiver taken in the 2005 draft behind Cleveland's Braylon Edwards, Minnesota's Troy Williamson, Detroit's Mike Williams and Jacksonville's Matt Jones. Last season, he set team rookie records with 44 catches for 471 yards.

Clements is playing a key role on a defense that hasn't allowed 300 yards passing in a game this season. A Pro Bowl selection in 2004, he was not named to the team this season despite three interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Clements was the first cornerback taken in the 2001 draft after being selected by the Bills with the 21st overall selection. He is the only player in Bills history to lead the team in interceptions for four consecutive seasons (2001 to 2004).

What to watch

Clements has been one of those guys that most fans know about but do not necessarily know that he's real good. Among NFL evaluators, however, he's always rated extremely high.

Clements is a complete cornerback in terms of coverage and run support. He has enough size (6 feet, 209 pounds) to body up bigger receivers and enough speed to adjust and mirror the quicker receivers.

Clayton is a receiver with sudden movement, which has given cornerbacks difficulty in covering him in one-on-one situations. That's why this matchup will be interesting. Clements is usually able to cover most receivers.

Clayton is versatile because he can give you the chain-moving play as well as the deep catch. He has good speed in his routes and is learning how to disguise his routes, making it hard to read. As he continues to gain experience, he's fine-tuning his skills.

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