The Colts prospect interviews are rolling along as we approach the NFL Draft. Today’s player interview is Appalachian State standout corner Clifton Duck. The Colts need more depth at the cornerback position, and the ballhawking corner would be an excellent addition in the later rounds.
The interview will be towards the bottom of the page, after I talk about Duck's fit with the team and analyze some of his college film.
5’10” 180 pounds
Measurables (Pro Day):
40 Time: 4.50 / Bench Press: 16 Reps / 20 yard shuttle: 4.19 seconds
158 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, 19 pass deflections, and 12 interceptions in his three year career.
Fit with the Colts:
Duck is a very talented ball hawk who could fit well in the Colts’ scheme. Given how much the Colts play zone coverage, Duck would be in a position to have his eyes in the backfield and read the quarterback, which is what he does best. He may not be the biggest, nor the strongest corner, but Duck brings the tenacity that the Colts love from their defenders. Putting him in a scheme that suits him, in addition to giving him the opportunity to learn from one of the best undersized corners in football in Kenny Moore II, could lead to Duck being very good depth for a team that desperately needs it.
Duck's ball skills are absurd, as he makes plays all over the field. He comes downhill well, and reads quarterbacks with ease.
Duck reads routes really well and breaks on passes easily. He does a good bit with the ball in his hands as well.
Duck is a pretty solid hitter, especially for a smaller cornerback.
No score left with 4:20 remaining in the quarter, but Clifton Duck is bringing the BOOM. pic.twitter.com/AnojyFUznF— App State Athletics (@appstatesports) October 1, 2016
ZH: You went to a big-time high school and were one of their best players but didn’t get much attention going into college. How was that whole recruiting process that led you to Appalachian State?
CD: My recruiting, or like lack thereof..... I didn’t really have much of a process really. Not really any schools were talking to me. Once I got at a camp with App State, I was able to earn a scholarship at the camp for my performance but it wasn’t like a game-filled recruitment where they loved my film or anything like that. Toledo did offer me from film and that was right around the same time App offered me. I didn’t really have that recruiting process so to speak, like speaking to coaches and stuff, but after the Toledo coach left for Iowa State, my offer didn’t transfer with it so that is kind of how I ended up at App.
ZH: So you come into App State and make a huge impact early on. Six interceptions, along with being named Sun Belt Freshman of the year. How did it feel to make a statement like that your Freshman year?
CD: It was a great feeling. It was moreso for me as I kind of left the recruiting process back in high school but it was getting to App, you know. App is a very successful program, so being able to do that at App and having people bring up the history of great players who have done things at Appalachian, it was just amazing. It was just a surreal thing. I feel like I was really able to make my parents proud just to be in that conversation with some of the great players to come from Appalachian.
ZH: You would go on to have a great three year career with App State. What went into the decision to declare early for this draft?
CD: It was just a production. You know production-wise I feel like I hit where I was going to hit, you know? Teams ultimately avoided me a little bit and I didn’t get as many targets. I just felt like the production I had was going to hit where it was going to hit and I wasn’t going to grow much taller next year either (laughs).
ZH: You weighed in at 180 pounds at your Pro Day. I’ve read that you’ve put on a good bit of weight in your time at college to get ready for the next level. What is the toughest part about putting on as much weight as you have?
CD: The toughest part is making sure you are able to move. I was Mamba academy so they had all the technology and everything you really needed to keep track of where your weight was and how fast you can move while gaining weight. Luckily for me, I never had the problem of putting on weight faster than what my body was able to move with. Just lifting and getting a feel for it at the same speed wasn’t a problem. For some people, putting on too much weight too fast, it slows you down and affects your flexibility but we had yoga every week, and I had the right technology to tell me how I’d move with that weight. Once I got to 180, I felt like that was good movement for me and it was a good weight for what scouts wanted to see me at. Hats off to Mamba and everything they had up there as it definitely helped me make sure I gained productive weight.
ZH: Going to your film, the first thing that stands out is your ball skills. You make a ton of plays in the passing game. What is the key to getting as many interceptions as you do?
CD: I’d say most of the time my interceptions come from film study. Coach Brown was big on teaching me that stuff. My freshman year, you can get away a bit with just being a good player and being able to still make plays, but to do it constantly and consistently at the college level, you really gotta get in that film. The more he broke down to me how to watch film, what to look for, and tendencies and things like that, I feel like that really helped my play. Obviously, the interceptions my freshman year came rather late into the season and it just carried on throughout my college career. I would say though, it was a lot of my instinct as I’ve always had good instincts but that film really put me over the top.
ZH: You have also made quite an impact on special teams in your career from what I’ve read. Do you think playing teams in NFL, either returning kicks or covering them, is something you’d excel at?
CD: Given the opportunity, I’d definitely love to do whatever I can on special teams. In high school, I was a kick returner and punt returner and in college I was more a punt returner but special teams are different from college to the NFL. It is more competitive and it is a lot more exciting when you are younger, and you get that feel like they just throw people out there. I like to do special teams though. Anywhere the team feels I can fit on special teams, I feel like I can be great. I really love doing that punt return though, I feel like I can really contribute there.
ZH: Who in the NFL do you model your game after/compare yourself most to?
CD: I like Brent Grimes. Just from a technique standpoint, which is amazing. He is not the biggest all the time, and he faces guys bigger than him, but you can tell he’s comfortable with his technique and comfortable in what he does and he plays every receiver consistently the same way.
I also really like Tyrann Mathieu. Just his feistiness you know. He’s never really been the biggest on the field, but his attitude, man. He carries himself like he’s the biggest, and I watch him play all the time and I keep that swag when I play. He’s getting in everybody’s face and he’s always there to make a play no matter who it is and no matter what team. He just carries himself like he’s the biggest guy on the field so I really try to emulate his style on the field.
ZH: You’ve had some outstanding celebrations in your career after big plays. I’m curious though, once you get that first interception in the NFL, what will be your celebration?
CD: I haven’t really thought about it just yet. I’ll let the season come for that (laughs). All the time, though, you thinking about the celebration, but when it happens, it comes so quick and you can’t think too long or you get a flag (laughs). It’s probably an instinct, you know. You got all these things going through your head, and when you make a play, just whatever comes out first is what ends up coming out. I plan out my celebrations all the time but when I get that pick, 9 times out of 10 it ends up being something else. It’s just the heat of the moment, really.
ZH: Final question for you. What is my team getting if they draft Clifton Duck?
CD: Anything that you ask of me, you’ll get just a competitor. Anything on the field or off the field, I’m a competitor. No matter what I do, I want to be the best at it. I just feel like that is my unique character. No matter what you are doing, I’m getting competitive and pushing everyone around me. Whether it is just being vocal, or competing every day, I’ll make other guys say “Wow, if he’s doing that then I gotta step it up too.”
I’m an energy guy. I’m always, like you said, celebrating and stuff like that but that happens in practice too. Every day is like gameday for me, and I’m always coming out to compete. I’m always in game mode so if I make a play in practice, then I’m celebrating and having fun. Energy, competitveness, and just that dog is the way to summarize my game. Anywhere you put me from special teams, gunner, corner, anywhere on the team, I’ll try to be the best at.