Nobody expected this from Corey Clement. If they did, they would have drafted him.
Clement, the Eagles' undrafted rookie tailback from Glassboro, New Jersey, has emerged as a key component of the NFL's top-ranked offense.
Specifically, Clement has proven to be an uncanny red-zone specialist. On an offense loaded with weapons, he's scored five touchdowns in nine games, all from the red zone.
Only six players in the NFL have scored more red-zone touchdowns than Clement, and we're talking some pretty big names — Todd Gurley has nine, Mark Ingram, Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon have seven, and Zach Ertz and Jimmy Graham have six each.
So Gurley, Ingram, Elliott and Gordon — all first-round draft picks — are the only running backs with more red-zone TDs this year than a kid who went undrafted in April, was fighting just three months ago to make the Eagles' roster and doesn't even start.
What makes Clement's five red-zone touchdowns so remarkable is that he has only eight red-zone touches all year!
And that ranks him … pause for math … 92nd in the league.
So he's got the 92nd-most red-zone chances and the sixth-most red-zone touchdowns.
Now that's production.
"The end zone, to me, it smells like Christmas," Clement said. "Like Christmas morning. It's right there. Everything you want, everything you worked so hard for.
"Now go get the payoff. A touchdown. Go get it. That's how I view it."
Clement has more red-zone TDs this year than LeSean McCoy (two), Carlos Hyde (four), LeGarrette Blount (three), Kareem Hunt (three) and Jonathan Stewart (two).
And those five backs are averaging 42 red-zone touches each. Clement has eight.
"Some of it is just want-to," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "I think all of our players have a lot of want-to. But I put Corey — if we're talking small increments of want-to, they're all really grade A, A-plus. But Corey has that little bit of extra want-to.
"That's always been something that stuck out about him, as far as I'm concerned, from Day 1 since he's been here."
Clement's five touchdowns are already the most by an Eagles rookie running back in 64 years and also the most by an undrafted Eagle in 64 years.
In 1953, Don Johnson had seven touchdowns as a rookie and undrafted Hal Giancanelli had six.
"I think it's just his attitude, his demeanor, his want-to and will, those are all what Corey is and who he is," head coach Doug Pederson said.
"He's a very violent, aggressive runner, and just loves ball. Any time he gets in there, he just goes 100 miles an hour and he is a smart guy. He's coachable. And he does exactly what you ask him to do and the results are paying off for him."
Clement actually has as many receiving touchdowns in his first nine NFL games (two) as he had in 39 games at Wisconsin.
He was never really a big part of Wisconsin's passing game because Wisconsin doesn't really have a passing game.
So what he's been able to do here as a pass blocker and receiver is really remarkable.
"That's a credit to Corey," Reich said. "You get a back from Wisconsin, you're not thinking pass protection. You're not thinking in that mode. But here's a guy who continues to show he's better in the pass game as a route runner than you thought he was going to be. He handles the protections extremely well.
"I think some of that goes back to the want-to. He wants to play, and he wants to be on the field, and knows, especially with (Darren) Sproles being hurt, that gives him an opportunity."
And Clement has scored in a variety of ways.
He made a circus catch against the Redskins. He scored on a screen pass against the Broncos. He had a couple short-yardage rushing TDs against the Broncos, who hadn't allowed a rushing TD all year. And he had a 15-yard TD against the Giants on an outside run.
"You've got to be able to switch it up because defenses are smart in this league and they're going to figure out what you're good at," he said. "So if you can give them multiple things that you're good at, it's going to be a lot harder to stop you."
The Eagles are the NFL's best red-zone team. And an undrafted rookie from South Jersey has been their most productive red-zone weapon … aside from Carson Wentz, of course.
"I think you just have to have that want-to and that knack for sifting out the end zone," Clement said. "Game planning definitely goes into it and you have to have the players to execute.
"Hey, every player in the NFL is good when it comes to getting into the end zone. You're right there, you've got to be able to do it. But I think it's the want-to factor of actually refusing to be denied that makes the difference when you're that close.
"When I get the ball, I don't see anything else but the goal line."