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Scouting Jets UDFA linebacker Claudin Cherelus

Taking a look at a young Jets linebacker

Between now and preseason, we’ll be breaking down the Jets’ undrafted rookies. Today, we break down former UMass and Alcorn State linebacker Claudin Cherelus in detail.

The 24-year old Cherelus is listed at 6’2” and 230 pounds and racked up 149 tackles, 25.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and an interception over the past two years with the Beavers, after having transferred from UMass. He was an all-Southwestern Athletic Conference second-team selection in 2022.


Cherelus was a three-star recruit coming out of high school and redshirted his first season in 2017 after enrolling at UMass. Over the next two years, he was unable to crack the starting line-up, although he did record 53 tackles and a sack in a reserve role.

Having opted to transfer to somewhere he could get a chance to start, Cherelus ended up with Alcorn State but they did not play in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, he stepped into a starting role in 2021 and racked up 76 tackles and 11 tackles for loss with two sacks.

In 2022, he was an all-SWAC second-teamer as he racked up 73 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. He also had the first interception of his career and two forced fumbles.

Cherelus was not invited to the scouting combine but did work out at Jackson State’s pro day and played in the HBCU Legacy Bowl. After going unselected in the draft, the Jets signed him to an undrafted free agent contract with a $5K signing bonus and $15K in guaranteed salary.

Now let’s take a look at what Cherelus brings to the table, divided into categories.


Cherelus weighed in at 224 at his pro day, although the Jets list him at 230. He has adequate length but may need to bulk up and work on his strength to compete at the NFL level. He only managed 18 bench press reps in his pro day workout, which is below average for a linebacker.

He does have good speed and explosiveness, as he posted a 4.54 in the 40-yard dash, a 38-inch vertical and a 125-inch broad jump in the pro day workout. His agility numbers were poor though.


Cherelus was a safety in high school, where he also played on offense and as a power forward for the basketball team, but he’s had a conventional linebacker role at the collegiate level.

The majority of his snaps have been in the tackle box and he was clearly tasked with calling the defensive signals. He has also crept up to the line or dropped off into the slot at times.

Run defense

Cherelus was a productive run defender over the past two seasons. He has good speed and burst, which can help him cover ground in pursuit and enable him to shoot gaps and avoid blockers.

His gap discipline is good and he is adept at avoiding blockers to fill running lanes between the tackles.

There are occasions when Cherelus can get caught up in traffic or is slow to disengage from a block, though.

Coverage skills

Cherelus has primarily been targeted on short passes over the past two seasons. He’ll typically be tasked with dropping into a shallow zone and reacting. His awareness can be lacking at times.

When tasked with picking up man-to-man assignments and covering on deeper routes he can be overmatched.

During his career, he gave up a completion percentage of over 80, but didn’t allow any 40-yard plays and only gave up two touchdowns in coverage (thrown by ex-Jet James Morgan and current Jet Zach Wilson).

Cherelus only had one interception and three passes defensed in his college career, all of which came in his final season.


Cherelus’ run defense grades were poor in 2019 and 2021, but his inconsistent tackling was the main reason for this. He missed over 20 percent of his tackles in each of those years with 26 of his 29 missed tackles in those two seasons coming against the run.

In 2022, he was much more consistent and this was reflected in a dramatic improvement in his run defense grade. He has good closing speed and can bring down a ball carrier in space.

He only forced two fumbles in his career.


Cherelus typically only blitzed several times per game, but had some good results over the past two seasons. In 2021, he was in the top-10 in the nation for pressure rate, and although his pressure rate was lower in 2022, he increased his sack production from two to six.

He’s been effective blitzing both up the middle and coming off the edge, where he displays a knack for ducking around offensive tackles.

Cherelus has also batted down one pass at the line when rushing the passer during his career.

Special teams

Like any undrafted rookie linebacker, Cherelus will need to prove he can contribute on special teams to have any chance of earning a role. He didn’t play much on special teams at Alcorn State but had a significant role with the Minutemen, racking up eight tackles in two seasons.

He has also lined up on the offensive line for the punt unit, rushed kicks and punts, and saw action as a blocker on the kick return unit in his first season.


As noted earlier, Cherelus might need to work on improving his strength to take on blocks near the line of scrimmage. He is willing to take on blocks but can be slow to disengage or get sealed off from getting in on plays.

In his entire career, he was only called for one defensive penalty and didn’t have any penalties on special teams.


Cherelus is versatile, smart and makes plenty of plays where he makes a decisive read and is quick to the football.

However, there are times when he has a beat of hesitation or takes a false step at the snap. He also can be prone to being fooled by misdirection.

In addition, there were some moments on film where he was involved in a miscommunication in coverage.


Cherelus is a high-energy player, who is hard-working but has a mature attitude with good self-confidence and determination. His coaches described him as a leader in the weight room and on the field and he was a team captain in high school.

As noted, his on-field discipline has been excellent.


Cherelus hasn’t had any serious injuries in his college career but did miss two games last season and was also knocked out of another game on the last drive, although he walked off under his own power and played the following week.

Scheme Fit

Cherelus looks like someone who could potentially develop into a good run defender, but doesn’t show much in terms of being a coverage linebacker in direct matchups. He could therefore be groomed for a Mike role, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him wearing the headset with the third unit in preseason, or at least sharing those duties with the other undrafted linebackers the Jets brought in.

Realistically, his best chance of seeing the field in 2023 will be to excel on special teams in camp and preseason, though.


Cherelus has some athletic ability and can make plays, but he struggled for the most part at UMass and it wasn’t until he dropped to the FCS level that he started to produce with good consistency - and, as an older prospect, this breakout came against a lot of players who were significantly younger than him.

It will therefore be a big jump for him to establish himself as an NFL-level contributor and he might need at least a year in an NFL weights program and with his nose in a playbook to get ready for that.

Cherelus seems to have good character and should be the kind of player than can come in and add something to the competition for roles in the linebacker room. If he can show enough flashes to earn a practice squad spot and then return to camp in 2024, that will be a good sign that he’s making progress towards eventually contributing.