CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Three defenders pictured here could go in the first round -- and two very early -- of next year's NFL draft.
Three defenders pictured here could go in the first round -- and two very early -- of next year's NFL draft.

Clemson defenders move up in top ESPN NFL draft prospects ranking


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A trio of Clemson defenders all moved up the latest NFL draft rankings for ESPN's Todd McShay this week ($).

Defensive end Myles Murphy leads the group at No. 5, up one spot for McShay.

"With 6.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss and 17 pressures in 2022, Murphy drives back offensive tackles when rushing the passer -- and he's effective ripping under the tackle's inside arm and powering upfield. He takes too wide an arc at times, but he has the bend and closing burst to win with speed off the edge," McShay said. "His strength, quickness and active hands make him a problem when he kicks inside, too, though he doesn't always seem to have a plan or counter ready. Murphy also has experience dropping in coverage (two pass breakups this season) and shows the strength and length to stack and shed offensive tackles defending the run (five run stops). His tape is a little inconsistent, but he has an impressive tool box."

Fellow Tiger D-lineman Bryan Bresee is right behind him at No. 6, up two spots.

"There's no denying the talent on Bresee's tape despite just 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss this season. He is a dominant run defender with the upper-body strength to stack and shed," said McShay. "He also has the quick hands and feet to slip and split blockers. He locates the ball quickly and is an effective tackler, too. Bresee is powerful and flashes as a hands fighter when rushing the passer (12 pressures), and he's effective running stunts and getting his hands up in passing lanes (two pass breakups)."

In the linebacker corps, Trenton Simpson is No. 29 overall, moving up from outside of McShay's first-round prospects.

"Simpson's range and closing burst stand out. He covers a lot of ground quickly, wraps up on contact and flashes good stopping power," McShay said. "That said, he occasionally takes questionable angles when tackling. Simpson is an instinctive pass-rusher who reads the quarterback and shows good range playing the overhang, although he needs to win with physicality to hold up in man coverage."

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