CLEMSON in the NFL

Travis Etienne's decision to return could be worth some extra money in April.
Travis Etienne's decision to return could be worth some extra money in April.

Trevor Lawrence No. 1, new Tiger joins him in latest NFL mock draft


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Everything in sports has been touched by the coronavirus pandemic and the NFL draft is no different -- with players opting out to train and others being affected by the virus in their pro prospects.

A late April assessment from Pro Football Focus had junior Clemson defensive end Xavier Thomas as a top-10 pick in 2021, but he did not make an appearance in PFF's latest mock after it was announced that Thomas will attempt to redshirt this season after overcoming COVID-19 and other ailments heading into camp.

With Thomas rendered out of that mix, a new Tiger emerged in their first-round picks with Travis Etienne at No. 28 to Tampa Bay.

"Someone had to take a running back! Etienne may not be your prototypical between-the-tackles back," PFF writes, "but he is precisely what you want in space. He broke the single-season record for broken tackles per attempt last year, with 91 broken tackles on 207 attempts."

Trevor Lawrence is still the projected top pick.

"What sets him apart from the rest is his prodigious arm strength combined with a quick release. He’s taken fewer sacks in his college career (32) than Justin Fields has (36) despite dropping back 393 more times and dealing with a far worse offensive line from a grading perspective," PFF analyzed.

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