Kiper: Clemson prospects positioned well after 'great decision' to return


by - Staff Writer -
Kiper sees Wilkins going as high as No. 14.
Kiper sees Wilkins going as high as No. 14.

We're less than a month away from some childhood dreams coming true for a number of Tigers in the NFL Draft (April 25 first round; April 26-27 for rounds 2-7).

Three Clemson prospects appeared in ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's last mock with former defensive linemen Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence.

Kiper was asked this week if Wilkins and Ferrell made the right call to play another year at the college level instead of going pro - and the longtime analyst gave a resounding yes.

"Well it was a great decision because they won a championship. That’s why you go back," Kiper said on an ESPN teleconference. "To maintain or improve your (draft) position and win a national title. Christian Wilkins could go anywhere from 17 and higher. Thought about him at 14 to Atlanta. Christian Wilkins is gonna go mid-first. That’s great for him.

"Ferrell at 16 to Carolina was the pick I’ve had since mock No. 1, following in the footsteps of Julius Peppers will be a lot of high expectations if he goes there. Would certainly be a good spot because they need help at edge rusher from a defensive end standpoint."

Kiper sees Dexter Lawrence as an instant-impact player for the Titans if selected there.

"Then you look at Dexter Lawrence, to go at (No.) 19 to Tennessee," he said. "Obviously the end of the year didn’t go how he would have hoped it would but 19 is a great spot for him. Tennessee needs help at that position. He would be a great hole-filler right away."

Kiper also referenced fellow Clemson 'Power Ranger' Albert Huggins as an example of the depth in the draft class for defensive linemen, citing his performance in Lawrence's absence down the stretch as evidence he could be "a factor" at the next level.

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