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NFL Draft Preview: Clemson Prospects

The NFL draft is Thursday. Here’s a Clemson-focused primer to get you ready.

NCAA Football: Clemson Pro Day Anderson Independent Mail-USA TODAY NETWORK

The NFL draft kicks off on Thursday April 25th in Nashville. Kyler Murray (QB - OU), Nick Bosa (DE - OSU), Ed Oliver (DT - UH), and Quinnen Williams (DT - UA) are the biggest names being discussed, but Clemson could see as many as eight players drafted which would be the most the Tigers have had since the 2016 draft when nine were taken. Las Vegas has set the over/under on Clemson alumni going in the first round at 2.5 (Over 2.5 (-300)).

The NFL draft obviously matters for NFL fans, but as Clemson football fans it matters too. As Clemson’s on-field success continues to build upon itself, NFL draft success is just one more reason for top recruits to choose Clemson. More importantly, it is an opportunity for us to see the players we’ve connected with over the past 3-5 years have their dreams come true. We’ll be hoping they go as high as possible and/or end up on our favorite NFL team or a team where they are set-up for success.

I’ve scoured the web to pull Clemson players from several mock drafts and collect them in one place. Below are my thoughts on each potential draftee:

Christian Wilkins (DT)

Coming back for another year obviously worked out for everyone given they won the National Championship and cemented themselves into history as the first 15-0 team in modern college football. For Wilkins, it may have improved his draft stock. I didn’t see him dropping out of the first round in any mock draft.

I could certanly see Wilkins going to the Falcons, particularly if Atlanta is worried about keeping Grady Jarrett. It seems like the Dolphins are more likely to grab a DE like Brian Burns or Clelin Ferrell at #13. I worry the Falcons will pass on Wilkins and get a CB like LSU’s Greedy Williams. Even if that happens, I don’t see Wilkins slipping past #25. Either way, it’ll be a good day for Christian Wilkins.

Here’s what CBS had to say:

The Falcons are looking for help along the offensive and defensive lines and while Christian Wilkins isn’t Quinnen Williams, he ain’t far behind -- at least according to advanced metrics. Pro Football Focus grades Williams as No. 1 in both pass-rush productivity and run-stop percentage. No. 2 in both categories? Wilkins. Plus, Grady Jarrett’s contract expires after the 2019 season and Wilkins would solidify the defensive line for the foreseeable future. - CBS

Clelin Ferrell:

Ferrell seems to have an even tighter range of likely outcomes. The Dolphin may be choosing between FSU’s Brian Burns and Ferrell at #13. The production would say “take Ferrell,” but you know how the NFL is obsessed with measurables and upside. He shouldn’t slip past the Ravens at #22, but I’d be surprised if we wasn’t taken by the Redskins at #15 or the Panthers at #16. It’s quite possible we see Wilkins and Ferrell go back-to-back there or at least fall close together in that mid-portion of the first round.

Ferrell was recently featured in a Hyundai Rolling with the Rookies video. Check it out:

Dexter Lawrence:

There’s a bigger range of outcomes here for Dexter Lawrence. After his freshman year we were talking about him going #1 in this draft, but foot troubles and a positive osterine test (that I believe was inadvertent, but nevertheless is a fair concern for an NFL franchise) could knock him down.

I think he could drop to the Chargers at the end of the first round. I’m expecting him to go between #22 and #45. If so, he will be a fantastic draft day value. Here’s what CBS has to say about him:

Don’t be fooled by his 6-foot-4, 342-pound frame. Dexter Lawrence is an incredible athlete and while first appearance might suggest otherwise, he’s a three-down player. For some perspective on just how versatile he is, during the 2018 season Lawrence ranked fourth in Pro Football Focus’ pass-rush productivity metric and was sixth in run-stop percentage. - CBS

Trayvon Mullen

Trayvon Mullen really impressed last year and helped his draft stock. It sounds like the second round is likely for Mullen.

Austin Bryant

Anywhere from the 2nd to the 6th round wouldn’t surprise me here. He played through a torn pectoral muscle last season and was still productive. Imagine what he can do if healthy! If your team doctors check it out and you feel comfortable with the recovery, he seems like a steal. He is a great character guy with proven production and incredible toughness. To me, this is an opportunity to get a second rounder in the 4th. This will be a great value pick for someone.

Mitch Hyatt

In 2015 I said Grady Jarrett would be among the best value picks of the draft. He was. This seems like an identical situation. Scouts are too caught up on measureables and upside here. Mitch Hyatt’s chances of being an above average tackle in the NFL seem very high. If he slips past the third round, which seems likely, you’ve gotten good value. If he slips past the 5th, it’s a travesty and a steal.

NCAA Football: Clemson Pro Day Anderson Independent Mail-USA TODAY NETWORK

Mark Fields

Measureable-obsessed scouts like Mark Fields’ speed. It sounds like his draft slot will overshoot his collegiate production and that’s certainly fine by us. A 5th round pick would be great news. It sounds like he’ll be drafted.

Hunter Renfrow

Measureable-obsessed scouts won’t drool over Hunter Renfrow. He doesn’t have the highest ceiling, but he will be a safe pick in the 5th-7th rounds.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Auburn Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Tre Lamar

  • #162 (5th Round) to CHI Bears (Drafttek)

Several drafts I looked at didn’t have Lamar included. I find it hard to believe he won’t get drafted. Surely he didn’t make the mistake that Van Smith did and leave early only to go undrafted. I think he’ll get picked, but it may be in the final few rounds.

Albert Huggins

  • #179 (6th Round) to AZ Cardinals (

Finally getting his time to shine in the two biggest games of the year, Albert Huggins proved to be an NFL-caliber player. Like Tre Lamar, he has a shot to get picked in the latter rounds of the draft.

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