On Saturday, Sept. 15, at 3 p.m., watch some of the
in next year’s draft on NESNplus when the 11th-ranked Clemson Tigers (2-0) take
on the Furman Paladins (0-2).
The FCS Palladins will have a tough time competing
against last year’s ACC champion Tigers, especially since the Palladins have to
travel to Clemson to play in their appropriately titled stadium, “Death
Valley.” That’s not the only reason to watch this college football matchup,
though. Clemson is among the top schools in the country in NFL players drafted
every year, and FCS schools as a whole produce as much NFL talent as any of the
big FBS conferences.
This year, Clemson is especially strong with senior
talent, and Furman has one strong sleeper for the 2013 draft. Here are the top
players to watch.
Andre Ellington, Clemson, Running Back
This senior may look small on paper at 5-foot-9, 195 pounds,
but he plays like he’s 6-foot-2, 245 pounds. Ellington churns out most of his
yardage barreling straight through the line, running up the middle. He has
deceptive speed when he can reach his second gear, and really showcases that
swiftness when he can cut off a long run. Ellington isn’t overly quick, and has
a tendency to keep his pad level a bit too high, but he should have a solid
game against Furman blasting through FCS defenders. One of the most impressive
parts of Ellington’s game is his balance, which makes his high pad level a
nonissue. Ellington is projected as a second- or third-round player.
Check out this video of Ellington playing against Auburn earlier in the year.
Rashard Hall, Clemson, Safety
Hall is big, athletic and can play both free safety
and strong safety, but he really excels at playing up in the box against the
run. When asked to play the center-field free safety position, the senior shows
good ball skills and has great closing speed to jump a route. Two complaints in
Hall’s game? He may take too many risks, and he’s not overly adept in man coverage.
However, Hall’s size (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) is hard to find at the position and should be
fun to watch develop at the pro level. He is a mid-round prospect.
Check out this video of Hall playing against Miami and Boston College last year.
Malliciah Goodman, Clemson, Defensive End
Goodman plays seven-technique defensive end for Clemson,
but his position could change in the future. He’s not an active pass rusher,
but showcases a strong bull rush when getting after the quarterback. Goodman is
best at sealing off his edge against the run, and can hold his ground very well
against offensive tackles. Goodman is massive for a college defensive end at
6-foot-4, 280 pounds. He could grow out of the position and play either
three-technique defensive tackle or five-technique defensive end in the pros.
The biggest flaw with Goodman is that he plays with his pad level too high and
therefore doesn’t play to his full, impressive strength. Goodman flashes the
skills of a mid- or low-round prospect, but a team could get enamored with his
size-speed combo and take him in the second or third round.
Check out this video of Goodman playing against Auburn in Week 1.
Colin Anderson, Furman, Tight End
Anderson flashes average blocking skills at the FCS
level for a tight end, which means Clemson will be a good test for him,
especially in the run game if he has to handle Goodman. Anderson played and ran
like a wide receiver during his junior year and had a stellar season with 40
receptions, 696 yards and seven touchdowns. His production has slowed down a
little his senior year, but teams also are keying in on him more now. Anderson
could be a fifth- or sixth-round pick if he can have a solid combine and
impress at one of the college all-star games.
Dalton Freeman, Clemson, Center
Freeman is an undersized center at 6-foot-4, 285 pounds,
but he shows a great combination of strength and athleticism, and should be
able to beef up to an NFL size. Freeman has nice footwork and does a good job
in both cut blocks and zone blocking up the middle. Freeman likely will be
looked at by an NFL team with a zone-blocking scheme due to his athleticism.
Freeman could be a mid-round pick in the 2013 draft.
Tajh Boyd, Clemson, Quarterback
Boyd is just a junior, but if he has an impressive
season, the athletic quarterback could jet for the pros in 2013. Boyd has a
strong arm, especially in the short-to-intermediate area of the field, but can
struggle at times on deeper throws. Boyd has looked a lot more accurate in the
first two games of his junior year than he did as a sophomore because of
improved throwing mechanics. Boyd has a quick release and has done a better job
of keeping his release point higher on this throws. Boyd can do some damage
with his feet as well, tallying up 218 yards and five touchdowns on the ground
last year. If Boyd comes out this year, a team could take a chance on him in
the third or fourth round. With another year under his belt, Boyd could be a
first- or second-round pick.
Sammy Watkins, Clemson, Wider Receiver
This incredibly talented sophomore wide receiver will be
making his season debut against Furman after sitting out the first two games of
the season due to an arrest for possession of a controlled substance. Watkins may have some character concerns, but he had one of the best seasons
ever for a true freshman in 2011. Watkins had 82 receptions, 1,219 yards, 12
receiving touchdowns, 32 carries and 231 yards on the ground, plus 826 yards in
kick returns with a touchdown. Watkins has impressive size at 6-foot-1, 200
pounds, and already is one of the most versatile players in the college game.
He’s only a true sophomore, so he won’t be eligible until the 2014 draft.
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson, Wide Receiver
If you want to watch a 2013 draft-eligible wide receiver in
the Clemson-Furman game, take a look at the player lined up across from
Watkins. Hopkins, a junior, has stepped in nicely for Watkins so far in 2012. Hopkins is more of a possession receiver, but flashes nice speed and agility
for his 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame. With Watkins out, Hopkins has become Boyd’s
favorite target in the Clemson offense. Hopkins and Watkins should make an
imposing pair for Furman to face.
Take a look at Hopkins against Auburn in the video below.
Photo via Flickr/PDAphoto
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