Stacked Draft: NFL proves there's something special at Clemson


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Lawson was the 19th overall pick in the NFL Draft (Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski, USAT)
Lawson was the 19th overall pick in the NFL Draft (Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski, USAT)

Many high school recruits are already thinking about the NFL when they make a choice on which college to attend, which puts Clemson in good shape with recruits going forward.

Clemson had nine players in the recently completed 2016 NFL Draft, the second-most in one season in Clemson history and the second most in the nation this year.

Only Ohio State, with 12 draft choices, had more selections than Clemson. The only season that Clemson had more draft choices was the 1983 draft when 10 Tigers were selected. Seven of the nine players selected this year were defensive players, more than any school in the nation this year.

Combined with the four selections last year, Clemson has had 11 defensive players drafted over the last two years, also the most in the nation.

Want to have a chance to get into the NFL? Go to Clemson, especially if you are a defender.

Whenever we talk to recruits – especially defensive ends and wide receivers – one of their main reasons for considering Clemson is, “They put guys in the league.”

Indeed, they do. Clemson has been consistent with the number of draft picks over the last 13 years – the Tigers had just two players chosen in 2003 and 2004, but had three chosen by the NFL in both 2005 and 2006. The numbers began to creep up – slightly – with five in 2007 and four each in 2008 and 2009 before having five drafted in 2010.

There were six players chosen in 2011, four each in 2012 and 2013, five in 2014 and 2015 and nine this season. That’s 19 players over the last three seasons.

Now for an even better stat: Since 2011 the Tigers have had 24 players drafted by NFL teams, and 21 of those players are still on an NFL roster. The only three not on a roster as of today are quarterback Tajh Boyd, defensive end Da’Quan Bowers and running back Jamie Harper.

The ACC had 26 players selected overall and Clemson had nine of those selections. No other league school had more than three.

The Tigers have been very defensive with the draft picks in recent years - 14 of those last 23 have been on the defensive side of the ball – but that could change with next year’s draft.

As of right now, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see quarterback Deshaun Watson (a likely first round pick), running back Wayne Gallman, wide receivers Mike Williams and Artavis Scott, tight end Jordan Leggett and center Jay Guillermo all drafted.

Hurting Gallman’s chances is the fact that next year’s running backs class is loaded with Leonard Fournette (LSU), Dalvin Cook (FSU), Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) and Nick Chubb (Georgia).

It’s no coincidence and it’s no secret that Clemson’s ascension into the national elite – an ascension that’s been a few years in the making – is tied to recruiting and the Tigers’ success on the recruiting trail. That in turn has turned into more wins and the chance to play for a national championship. That added visibility means more draft picks. It all ties in.

Right now, if you’re a recruit and you’re thinking you might want to play in the NFL, Clemson is a good choice. And it doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

Some other notes about Clemson and the draft:

•Clemson had four players selected in the first three rounds, the most in school history. Clemson also had three picks within the first three rounds in 2011, 1991 and 1987.

•Clemson’s four selections within the first three rounds were the fourth most in the nation. Ohio State led with a record 10, Alabama had 7 and Notre Dame had six.

•With the selection of Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd, Clemson has had seven defensive ends selected in the last seven years.

*With the selection of Mackensie Alexander, T.J. Green and Jayron Kearse, Clemson has had 11 defensive backs selected in the last eight years.

•With the selection of Lawson and Dodd within the first 40 selections, it marked the first time since the 1979 draft that two Clemson players who are natives of the state of South Carolina were taken within the first 40 picks.

•Clemson had seven defensive players selected in this draft, the program has had 14 defensive players selected in the last four years, or since Brent Venables became defensive coordinator.

•Clemson had nine players drafted this year, the eighth straight year Clemson has had at least four players chosen. Clemson is the first ACC school to have at least four players chosen eight straight years since Florida State had a 10-year run from 1992-01.

•Clemson is now third among ACC schools in history in first round selections (27) and total draft choices (237).

Dabo Swinney has six first-round selections in his eight seasons as Clemson head coach. He is just one behind Danny Ford (7) for most first-round selections under a Clemson head coach. Swinney has had 42 players drafted over his eight seasons as Clemson head coach.

Clemson Draft Summary

Shaq Lawson, Buffalo Bills, 1st Rd, Pick 19
Kevin Dodd, Tennessee Titans, 2nd Rd, Pick 33
MacKensie Alexander, Minnesota Vikings, 2nd Rd, Pick 54
T.J. Green, Indianapolis Colts, 2nd Rd, Pick 57
B.J. Goodson, New York Giants, 4th Rd, Pick 109
D.J. Reader, Houston Texans, 5th Rd, Pick 166
Charone Peake, New York Jets, 7th Rd, Pick 241
Jayron Kearse, Minnesota Vikings, 7th Rd, Pick 244
Zac Brooks, Seattle Seahawks, 7th Rd, Pick 247

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