Clemson's NFL Draft Preview
|Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 9:02 PM-|
CLEMSON — According to many NFL draft prognosticators, Clemson could have eight members of its 2015 No. 2 ranked team selected over the three days (April 28-30) of the NFL Draft in Chicago. If that is the case it would be the largest Clemson draft class in 25 years.
The last time Clemson had eight players chosen was the draft of 1991. Clemson had the nation’s top ranked defense the previous fall on the way to a 10-2 record and top 10 finish. The record for Clemson players selected in on draft is 10 in 1983.
Four of the eight players who have been prominent in many draft evaluations this spring have had been mentioned as candidates for selection in the first round. If Clemson has a first round selection on Thursday, it will give the program at least one first-round selection four years in a row. Clemson, Texas A&M, Alabama, Florida and Florida State are the only schools to have at least one each of the last three years.
A look to 32 mock drafts on various media outlets has Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson going in the first round in all 32. Curtis Conway of NFL.com has Lawson going as high as the No. 4 pick of the draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Twenty-seven of the 32 mock drafts have Lawson going between picks 8-19.
Lawson led the nation in total tackles for loss last year with 25.5. He was a consensus first-team All-American and was a finalist for the Hendricks Award, the Bednarik Award and the Lombardi Award.
Lawson’s runningmate at defensive end, Kevin Dodd, is listed as a first round draft choice in 17 of the 32 mock drafts with a high of No. 11 to the Chicago Bears by The Sporting News. After playing just 92 snaps on defense in 2014, Dodd was second in the nation in total tackles for loss with 22.5 in 2015, including an incredible eight in the two College Football Playoff games, more than any other FBS player in the postseason.
Dodd and Lawson will be in Chicago attending the draft as guests of the NFL. It marks the third straight year Clemson has had a player invited to the draft. Sammy Watkins was in attendance in 2014 and Vic Beasley was at the draft in Chicago last year.
Cornerback Mackensie Alexander is listed as a first round selection in 14 of 32 mock drafts. Bleacher Report and NBC Sports commentator Chris Collingsworth have him going as high as the No. 12 selection by the New Orleans Saints. Alexander did not give up a touchdown to the receiver he was assigned to cover over his last 23 games. He was a second-team All-American and first-team All-ACC in 2015.
T.J. Green, a safety last year, is listed as a late first round draft choice by three media outlets. Green had 130 tackles according to the Clemson coaches film, third on the team. He was a big reason Clemson ranked 10th in the nation in total defense.
Four other members of Clemson’s 14-1 team figure to be selected by Saturday afternoon. Jayron Kearse (SAF, second-team All-American), B.J. Goodson (top tackler, All-ACC), D.J. Reader (DT, 141 career tackles) and Charone Peake (WR, 99 career receptions) all attended the NFL Combine in February and are projected to be selected over the seven rounds. First-team All-ACC offensive guard Eric Mac Lain also could be selected or sign a free agent contract.
Other Draft Notes
•Clemson has had a first-round draft choice each of the last three years. DeAndre Hopkins was the No. 27 selection of the 2013 draft by the Houston Texans, Sammy Watkins was the No. 4 pick by Buffalo in 2014, Vic Beasley was the No. 8 selection of the first round by the Falcons and Stephone Anthony was the No. 31 selection of the first round by the New Orleans Saints in 2015.
• As far as total NFL draft picks since the 2009 season, or since Dabo Swinney became Clemson's head coach, the Tigers have the ninth-most selections in the nation with 33. Alabama is first with 48, LSU is second with 45, Southern California is third with 43 and Florida State is fourth with 40. Georgia and Oklahoma have 39 apiece, while Florida is seventh with 38. Ohio State is eighth with 35.
•Clemson has had at least four selections in the NFL Draft each of the last seven years, the only ACC school that can make that claim. Clemson’s seven-year run of at least four players drafted is the longest by an ACC school since Florida State had at least four selected 10 consecutive years from 1992-2001.
•Dodd and Lawson will be the sixth and seventh Clemson players to attend the draft as a guest of the NFL. The others are Chester McGlockton (1992), Gaines Adams (2007), C.J. Spiller (2010), Sammy Watkins (2014) and Vic Beasley (2015).
•Clemson has had 26 NFL first-round draft picks in its history. (NFL records do not consider Harvey White a first-round draft choice in 1960 as it was an AFL selection).
•Thirty-seven former Clemson players were on NFL rosters last year and 32 got into an NFL game, more than any other season in school history
Clemson Players in Mock Drafts
(As of April 26, 2016)
Shaq Lawson, DE
#4 (Cowboys): Curtis Conway (NFL Network)
#8 (Browns): Chad Reuter
#9 (Bucs): Sporting News
#10 (Giants): Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine
#11 (Bears): Peter King, Will Brinson, Draftsite.com
#12 (Saints): Walter Football
#13 (Dolphins): Charley Casserley, Todd McShay, Newsday, Draft Insider Digest
#14 (Raiders): Rob Rang, Chris Tomasson
#16 (Lions): Mel Kiper, Daniel Jeremiah, Jared Dubin, SB Nation
#17 (Falcons): Nate Atkins, Dane Brugler, Kevin Fishbain, Chris Collingsworth
#18 (Colts): Bucky Brooks
#19 (Bills): Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine, Peter Prisco, Charles Davis
#24 (Bengals): J.C. Talon
#28 (Chiefs): Lane Zierlein, Hub Arkush
#29 (Cardinals): Arthur Arkush
Kevin Dodd, DE
#11 (Bears): Sporting News
#12 (Saints): Curtis Conway, Chad Recter, Charley Casserley
#13: (Dolphins): Lance Zierlein
#15 (Titans): Kevin Fishbain
#16 (Lions): Charles Davis
#19 (Bills): Arthur Arkush
#20 (Jets): Nate Atkins
#29 (Cardinals): Hub Arkush
#30 (Panthers): Todd McShay, Sports Illustrated, Chris Collingsworth, Mel Kiper, J.C. Tralon, Will Brinson, Jared Dubin
MacKensie Alexander, CB
#12 (Saints): Bleacher Report, Chris Collingsworth
#20 (Jets): Draft Insider Digest
#21 (Redskins): Hub Arkush
#25 (Pittsburgh): Curtis Conway, Dan Kadar, SB Nation, Peter King, Jared Dubin
#26 (Seattle): Sports Illustrated
#28: (Chiefs): Will Brinson
#29 (Cardinals): Charley Casserley
#30 (Panthers): Newsday, Nate Atkins
T.J. Green, SAF
#29 (Cardinals): Chad Reuter, J.C. Talon
#30 (Panthers): Lance Zierlein