If NFL teams are looking for a middle linebacker that is 6-foot-4, weighs 250 pounds and runs a 4.4, then they don’t need to draft former Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware. However, if they are looking for a linebacker that plays like he is 6-foot-4 and plays like he is 250 pounds and runs like he can run a 4.4, then Boulware is definitely their guy.
“Whatever team he gets on, he will do the rest because what is great about this game is football players come in all shape and sizes,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said recently to Greenville’s WYFF, who will have draft coverage all week long. “At the end of the day, you still have to be a football player. I don’t care how fast you are, how tall you are or how high you jump. When you get between the lines you have to be able to play the game at a high level.”
No one who is expected to be drafted next week in the NFL Draft plays at a higher level than Boulware. The former Clemson star, who grew up right down the road from Clemson in Anderson, S.C., goes all out on every play. That’s why he played all four seasons in Tigertown. That’s why he has been a starter the last two seasons. He is a big reason why Clemson won its first national championship in 35 years.
“He is a big-time winner,” Swinney said. “He is an unbelievable football player. He competes. He cares. He is a great teammate. He is a fan favorite. Everything that we all know as a Clemson Tiger, he is not going to change.
“He is going to carry that with him to the next level. He lacks some to the measurables that maybe are not as sexy, so you will not hear his name early, but somebody is going to take him.”
Boulware is expected to be a Day 3 guy in the 2017 NFL Draft, which begins on Thursday in Philadelphia, Pa. Most expect the All-American linebacker to hear his named called by the fourth or fifth round of the draft.
“Ben lacks some of the measurables … the height, the length, the speed or whatever, but when he steps between the lines he is 6-4, 250 and runs a 4.4 and with an incredible football IQ,” Swinney said. “He plays the game big. There are guys that are faster, but they don’t play as fast. There are guys bigger, but they will not play as big. That is what makes this game so fun, and at the end of the day, coaches love dependable players and that is what you have in Ben Boulware. He is a guy that is going to show up every day and he is going to win games for you.”