The New York Jets have picked up a number of UDFAs on the defensive line whilst in search of further depth for the strongest positional group on the roster. Lets take a look at Claude Pelon; does he have a chance of making the roster at this very competitive position?
- Name: Claude Pelon
- School: USC
- Position: DE/DT
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 310 lbs
Pelon transferred to USC in 2014 from Arizona’s Mesa Community College where he made 2013 JUCO All-American and All-Western States Football League second team. Although he only started three games in 2014, he was a regular part of the rotation on the Trojan’s d-line. In 13 games he had 19 tackles with six tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He also had two deflections and a blocked field goal. Following this successful performance, it was expected that Pelon would become a regular starter in 2015. However, after suffering a knee injury and facing increased competition, he remained in a back up spot, moving to the defensive end position according to the Trojans official website. Pelon had 26 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in his senior year. He is now the third USC Trojan on the Jets roster, joining his good friend Leonard Williams on the d-line and safety Dion Bailey.
Pre Draft Projections
Pelon was not invited to the NFL combine nor appeared in any All- Star games. He garnered little attention during the draft build up.
ESPN describe Pelon as passing the ‘eyeball’ test when it comes to defensive lineman, with his six foot four, 300+ pound frame. He performed well at USC’s pro day, benching 33 reps at 225 pounds. He also posted 9’2” on the broad jump and an 35” vertical leap, showing impressive strength and explosiveness. He has good stamina, showing relentless effort and the capability to make plays late in games. Pelon holds up well at the point of attack and can extend his arms to stand up his blocker. He has a knack for making vital stops on short yardage plays. His explosiveness off the line of scrimmage means he can be extremely disruptive, pressuring the QB.
Pelon also produced on special teams for USC, blocking a number of kicks and making some key tackles on punt returns.
Consistency is an issue with Pelon, who never cracked a starting position at college. His speed and agility is average and he has little range in pursuit. His vision can also be problematic. At times, he is seen to misread how a play is unfolding, becoming preoccupied with beating his man regardless. With limited snaps, he may have been attempting to showcase his aggressiveness at each opportunity, although he’ll need to refine his ability to read the game and think on the spot in the NFL.
Pelon is a ‘raw talent’ who was clearly brought in to compete for a back up spot. The Jets have taken several similar defensive linemen in free agency and seem to be searching for the diamond in the rough missed by other teams. Pelon could fit the bill, having played more consistently at the end of his senior year than previously. He certainly has the physical attributes, passion and aggressiveness required. If he can make a mark during the preseason by continuing the level of play from the end of his college career, he has a chance of at least making the practise squad as a future project.
Photo credit: USA Today Sports