Three Tigers listed on Mel Kiper's 2019 Top 18 draft prospects


by - Assoc. Editor -
Ferrell, Lawrence, and Lawrence are all solid NFL prospects
Ferrell, Lawrence, and Lawrence are all solid NFL prospects

ESPN's 'draft guru' Mel Kiper Jr. released his 2019 NFL Draft Board on Thursday and had three Clemson defensive linemen included in the top 18.

Defensive end Clelin Ferrell was chosen No. 5 overall (previously 4) and the No. 2 DE behind Ohio State's Nick Bosa (1).

"I thought Ferrell could have been a first-round pick in the 2018 draft, when he was a third-year sophomore," Kiper said. He's that good. He had 9.5 sacks last season and is up to six in six games this season. He terrorized Texas A&M and Georgia Southern with two sacks apiece and multiple pressures. Clemson has one of the most talented defensive lines I've ever seen in college football, and Ferrell is the top prospect.

Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence was rated No. 11 overall (Previously 6) and the No. 3 DT behind Houston's Ed Oliver (2) and Rashan Gary (9).

"As I wrote in my way-too-early Big Board, big-bodied guys who move like Lawrence and can eat gaps don't last long in the draft," Kiper said. "And Lawrence has shown that he is more than a plugger -- he had nine sacks in his first two seasons. Turn on the tape, and Lawrence takes on blockers and throws them aside. He hasn't made a huge impact this season, however, as he has only 12 total tackles and one tackle for loss in six games."

Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins was rated No. 18 overall (Previously 20) and the sixth best at his position.

"Wilkins skipped the 2018 draft and decided to return for another season at Clemson," Kiper said. "And like his linemate Ferrell, Wilkins could have gone on Day 1 last April. I compared Wilkins last year to former Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, because he's scheme-versatile and could play end or tackle in the NFL. Wilkins has 5.5 tackles for loss this season. The Clemson defensive line is loaded."

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