Late For Work 7/4: Where Is Mark Clayton Now?

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Where Is WR Mark Clayton Now?

Ravens 2005 first-round pick Mark Clayton admits the transition away from football has been difficult.

The former wide receiver slept, ate and drank football for more than a decade of his life in the pros and college. It was the center of his universe.

And now it is gone. He officially retired in May of 2013, closing the door on a seven-year NFL career.

"Oh my gosh! Bro, it's different man," he told WNST's Drew Forrester this week.

His NFL career was not what he had dreamed when he was selected with the 22nd-overall pick. Clayton was an All-American his senior year at Oklahoma, playing in the national championship.

With the Ravens for five years, Clayton never felt he lived up to the billing of a first-round pick. His best season came in his second year (67 catches, 939 yards and five touchdowns) when Steve McNair was the quarterback, but Clayton was never able to replicate that success.

A Baltimore quarterback carousel didn't help his cause. He caught balls from five different starting QBs in as many years: Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright, McNair, Troy Smith and Joe Flacco.

Looking back, Clayton asks himself what could have been the story of his NFL career if he was drafted into a stable offense that produced year in and year out.

"I'm definitely a dreamer and I think about that, just, 'What ifs?'" he said.

Clayton said he heard the Dallas Cowboys were considering drafting him in 2005 with the 20th-overall pick – two spots ahead of the Ravens. He said they were trying to decide between an offensive and defensive player, and ultimately picked defensive end Marcus Spears.  

"And I'm like, "Man, what if [I went with] Romo, who throws the ball quite a bit and would give you quite a bit of opportunity to make plays,'" Clayton said.

"At this point, I certainly enjoyed my time in Baltimore. The organization was awesome. Steve and Ozzie, I absolutely loved it. I also think about, "Man, what if I was in an offense where year after year we were putting up 3,500-4,000 yards passing? What would that be like?"

It was not to be, however. His NFL history is written.

And now that Clayton is out of the league, he has thrown himself into entrepreneurship.

It's only been a year since officially retiring, and Clayton has already developed an idea he came up with while playing football. He was even featured by Forbes.

Clayton has developed a rare set of headphones specifically designed for athletes.

He is in the process of raising funds and preparing to launch the new brand called Livv Headphones. They are branded as over-ear, wireless, lightweight and water/sweat resistant.

The name "Livv" was chosen because Clayton wants his users to be able to live out their lives and forget that they are even wearing the headphones. To get them just right, Clayton teamed up with Dale Lott, who was responsible for building key communication systems for the Armed Forces and NASA.

"In looking at the design, alone, you see the creativity and innovation — something you've never seen in a headphone; I guarantee there is not an over-ear headphone on the market that performs like it," Clayton told Forbes.  "It is lightweight . . . I can actually do what I want to do and the headphones stay with me.  People don't wear over ear headphones, because they simply don't work.  If you're doing a run, jumping jack or a burpee, your headphones move all over the place.  These are light and stick very close to your head.  You have ability to really do a workout.  That is the difference."

I have to admit, if the headphones do everything Clayton claims, I'll have to buy a pair. He has a few ready for presale, but the business won't take off unless Clayton raises $200,000 by Aug. 12. They're featured on kickstarter.com.

Check out the cool video of his product below (mobiles users tap "View in browser" at the top of the page).

And good luck, Mark! We wish you success!

Offense Will Make Or Break 2014 Season

When you think of Ravens football, you think defense.

The defense carries the offense, right?

Not so fast.

The nine times the Ravens have made the playoffs, they finished in the top half of the league in points scored, according to ESPN. In six of the nine times they missed the postseason, Baltimore finished lower than 20th in scoring.

"Contrary to popular belief, success for the Ravens has largely come when their offense has played well," wrote KC Joyner. "That doesn't bode well for the 2014 squad. The Ravens are coming off a season in which they finished 25th in the league in points scored and had horrible metrics in nearly every area. And they don't seem likely to get any better.

"The addition of new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak notwithstanding, the Ravens haven't done enough this offseason to improve their statistical outlook on offense. At this point, it's difficult to consider them a strong playoff contender."

We already know the rushing attack was one of the worst in the league last year, finishing 30th in rushing yards per game.

But it will be "especially difficult to solve," says Joyner, because the team ranked 30th in "good  blocking rate" (GBR), which measures how often ball carriers are given good blocking, and 32nd "good blocking yards per attempt" (GBYPA), which measures running back productivity on plays with good blocking.

Has the offensive line improved enough to turn around the GBR? Eugene Monroe will have nearly a full year under his belt as a Raven. Kelechi Osemele is healthy and back. The Ravens traded for a new center in Jeremy Zuttah, and second-year Rick Wagner is taking over at right tackle.

Can Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce and company have a bounce back season to improve the GBYPA?

The Ravens' vertical game also suffered in 2013, with the lowest yards per attempt on vertical passes traveling 11 yards or more. Will the additions of Steve Smith Sr. and Owen Daniels, plus the return of Dennis Pitta, be enough to open the door for Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones downfield?

Joyner doesn't think the solutions the Ravens have implemented on offense will be enough.

"If the Ravens don't get their act together on offense, they will have an albatross on one side of the ball that will almost certainly keep them on the outside of the postseason looking in," he wrote.

Quick Hits

  • @TorreySmithWR: Good morning y'all....special thanks to the soldiers who continue to protect our country's independence! Enjoy your 4th!
  • 'Hard-nosed' rookie wide receiver Jeremy Butler is off to a good start with the Ravens. [The Baltimore Sun]
    General Manager Ozzie Newsome is being inducted into the National Federation of State High School Association's National High School Hall of Fame. [Montgomery Advertiser]
  • Getting to know Ravens rookie wide receiver Michael Campanaro. [Russell Street Report]

@bp_30 [Bernard Pierce]: While y'all was chillin I'm kicking that door in like... Let me in!!!!! 4th & 1 who's ya money on [Instagram]

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