The Seahawks took a chance drafting Michigan defensive end Frank Clark when they came to the podium with the 63rd-overall selection. Short a first-round pick thanks to the Jimmy Graham trade, the team had a long wait before making their first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. They thought they hit on that pick, getting a great value with Clark, who saw his stock drop due to allegations of a domestic violence incident involving his then-girlfriend Diamond Hurt.
The team had been interested in Clark, but told the player they could not draft him with the investigation open, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Florio writes that Clark had the charges resolved “for roughly the price of a speeding ticket,” and that the team made no further inquiries into the case.
Now, new information has come to light about the incident and its aftermath. Geoff Baker and Lewis Kamp of the Seattle Times write that according to the official police report, after the incident manager Stephanie Burkhardt entered the couple’s room, when Clark told the female hotel manager, “I will hit you like I hit her,” before contacting her with his shoulder and exiting the room. Burkhardt confirmed the story to Baker and Kamp at the Seattle Times. She also tells that she was never contacted by the prosecutor before the charges were dropped.
The Seahawks conducted their own investigation, and felt comfortable enough to draft Clark under the belief that he did not hit Hurt based on their findings.
“I know they were on site the day after the incident to find out what the status was,” said Ken Bailey, a criminal defense lawyer in Sandusky, Ohio. “I don’t know the names of who they all talked to. I know they were interviewing people at the school — team members, team staff — but I don’t know who.”
The Seattle Times’ report also included the release of documents that included a hospital visit from Hurt, a breath test that put her blood-alcohol level at .000 (contrary to Clark’s statement that she had been drinking), and a witness testimony confirming that Hurt’s siblings ran out of the room saying “their sister’s boyfriend was punching her in the face.’’
According to Florio, the Seahawks have been adamant that they would not draft a player who has struck a woman. However, if information comes to light that Clark did indeed commit the crime he was accused of, there will be tremendous pressure for the team to move on from the recently drafted defensive lineman. Florio also points out a precedent in the Patriots moving on from defensive tackle Christian Peter three days after the 1996 NFL Draft, as reported by Philly.com. The Patriots claimed that they were not aware of Peter’s history at the time of drafting him, and renounced his rights. Peter was a fifth-round pick.
The Seahawks have signed four out of their six draft picks from the 2015 class so far, but second-round pick Clark is not among them. The team has also failed to sign Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett.