Clayton Fejedelem, FS
School: Illinois | Conference: BIG 10
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 6-0 / 204 lbs
Projected: 5th Round | Actual: 7th Round (Pick 245) by the Cincinnati Bengals
Clayton Fejedelem is an all effort player that attacks every game and every opponent with a chip on his shoulder. Apparently before his growth spurt before the end of high school he was a short, skinny kid and always felt he had something to prove. Clayton collegiate career is unique in that he started it by playing for St. Xavier in the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics). His jump and success in the FCS shouldn't be taken lightly as players 2 levels down in the NAIA play recreationally in a sense and most aren't talented enough to make the jump to Division II much less Division I ball. He was a standout at St. Xavier and transferred to Illinois after his Sophomore season.
Fejedelem just has a nose for the ball. In 2014, he didn't even start for the Illini (except 1 game) and still amassed 49 tackles. In 2015, his first year as a starter, he made a whopping 140 tackles as a safety. He has good instincts, and exceptional closing speed and ability. The number of tackles is a reflection of a combination of things including not giving up on plays, taking the right angles, and being a superb tackler. But Fejedelem isn't just a box safety running down opponents he knows where the ball is in the air as well notching picking off a couple passes this past season and defending 7 more. He has experience playing in the box and single high at Illinois.
Had Fejedelem started his career at Illinois or another power conference school he likely would be in consideration as a higher round draft choice but with only one year as a starter on his resume and coming from such a meager conference its fair that he isn't getting the buzz he probably should. Fejedelem relishes the opportunity to work hard, earn his success, and make his presence felt and he's done that so far in his career and I expect it to continue in the NFL.
How He Makes the Bengals Better and Creates Problems for the Redskins
Clayton Fejedelem has a long way to go to make an impression within the Bengals organization but he’s the type of guy who is used to tough odds. While Fejedelem will have to prove he can play in the NFL he has a decent shot to make the final 53 as the Bengals fourth safety. The starting roles are locked up by Derron Smith and George Iloka with the third spot likely going to Shawn Williams. Fejedelem will have to compete with Jimmy Wilson for the final spot if the Bengals carry 4 safeties onto the roster. Fejedelem’s biggest impact if he makes the team will likely come from special teams. It gives him a chance to do what he does well. Hit.
7th round picks rarely turn out to be much in the NFL but if Fejedelem has come this far in his football playing career already the notion of him developing into a quality backup safety would be incredible. His shot is now.
Fejedelem should be a non factor when the Redskins play the Bengals even if he makes the final 53.