Clemson NFL Draft Preview

by - Correspondent -
Some experts believe Justin Miller would be a nice fit for Oakland with the 26th pick in the first round.

CLEMSON -- The recent arrest of former Clemson cornerback Justin Miller on misdemeanor disorderly conduct and noise ordinance violation charges has sparked much debate as to how the incidents will affect his draft status.

Some draft experts say that Miller's gaffe could ultimately prove very costly, perhaps causing a severe drop in status comparable to what Randy Moss went through a few years back. Others aren't convinced his stock will fall at all.

Perhaps Vinnie Iyer, Director of NFL Projects for The Sporting News, put it best earlier in the week.

"Yes, NFL teams look at character and that's very important," he said. "But make no mistake. On draft day, talent is still the most important factor."


Miller has plenty of that, both as a cornerback and a kick return specialist. The question is, does he fit well enough to be one of the first 32 picks in today's first round of the NFL Draft?

Our guess is maybe, and it may take Al Davis to pull it off.

Davis, the crochety old owner of the Oakland Raiders, has harbored more castoffs in the last 40-plus years than the Island of Misfit Toys. Not that Miller qualifies as a castoff or a misfit, but Davis is one owner who likely won't let a pair of misdemeanor charges sour his own demeanor.

The Raiders, who traded away their No. 1 pick to the Vikings to acquire Moss earlier this offseason, regained a first round pick - No. 26 - in another deal earlier this week. Some experts believe Miller would be a nice fit for Oakland, who needs help on defense and could always use another dangerous threat on special teams.

If not the Raiders, speculation has centered on New England with the 32nd and last pick of the first round. The Patriots also need defensive back/special teams help, but the New England organization is almost the antithesis of Oakland, and one wonders if the Pats are willing to gamble on even a minor character flaw.

So our prediction? Unless the Raiders bite at 26, watch for Miller to fall into the second round.

Other former Tigers to watch:

Linebacker Leroy Hill

Could Hill be this year's Zach Thomas? Small and slow by NFL standards, yet makes play after play. Hill probably lasts until the fourth round, maybe later. But the team which takes a chance on the young man will get a tenacious tackler with a knack for finding the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage.

Wide Receiver Airese Currie

If any receiver in the country's hands improved more than Currie's did between his sophomore and junior seasons, we'd like to see him. Healthy as a senior, Currie was tops in the ACC at his position despite fighting double teams and funky coverages all season. Size will work against Currie, but his speed will earn him a shot somewhere. Figure no sooner than the fifth round.

Defensive Lineman Eric Coleman

A possible sleeper pick in the draft until word came out he failed a marijuana test at the NFL combine. His stock, nowhere near as high as former teammate Miller's, will fall further and faster. Coleman will be lucky to go by the fifth round.

Offensive Lineman Cedric Johnson

Big Ced can be a load to move, or a load on a coach's mind. It depends on how serious he gets about playing. But at the NFL level, that act won't fly. Johnson's best hope is a free agent contract after the draft.

Tight End Ben Hall

Hall will be an interesting player to watch. Under-utilized at Clemson, he still has big-play ability. His size and speed combination should intrigue some NFL team by the seventh and final round.

Safety Travis Pugh

Another tough, big-hitter type who will be overlooked. Most likely Pugh signs a free agent deal after the draft.

Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger and TigerNet. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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