STRENGTHS - Clay is a solid athlete with the speed and lateral agility to make plays on the boundary and the foot quickness and fluidity to drop effectively into coverage. He is extremely physical in coverage as he is quick to jam receivers underneath to knock them offline. He has a knack for immediately reading screens and getting to the receiver as the ball arrives to either break up the pass or finish the tackle for minimal gain.
WEAKNESSES - Clay is clearly undersized for the LB position and not surprisingly struggles against to defeat blocks. He is easily engulfed and driven off the ball by bigger blockers inside and on multiple occasions in games I viewed was pancaked by lead blockers out in space on the perimeter. While he has good speed he isn't an explosive athlete, and is unable to consistently close effectively on plays in front of him. Clay also struggles to recognize play-action fakes, and tends to take himself out of position by taking false steps inside.
SUMMARY - Michael Clay is a classic "tweener," as he lacks the height and bulk of a typical NFL LB, as well as the explosiveness to play on the back end. His most likely position at the next level is at WILL for a 43 defense, as his struggles against blockers will make him a liability on the inside against the run. Where he is at his best is in coverage, as he is physical and aggressive underneath and has enough speed to stay with most backs in space. Without a natural position, Clay is unlikely to stick in the NFL, but if he is able to add 10-15 lbs of muscle he could eventually develop into nickel package player and special teams contributor.