GREENVILLE, S.C. — Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney admitted he was a little surprised linebacker Ben Boulware was not taken in last week’s NFL Draft. However, he also said there was a silver lining to it.
After going undrafted, Boulware was picked up by the Carolina Panthers as a free agent last Saturday.
“I thought he would be late. I thought he would have been a sixth- or seventh-round draft pick,” Swinney said Wednesday prior to the Greenville Clemson Club’s Prowl & Growl event at Fluor Field. “That’s about where he should have fallen. He will be fine. He will be just fine. Sometimes when you are going sixth or seventh rounds, sometimes it is best not to get drafted.”
Swinney explained when a player is a high priority free agent, and there are several teams calling and wanting to pick him up, now the player can control the situation a little more and pick a team that gives them the best opportunity to make a roster.
“You can negotiate a little more and the biggest thing is you can pick the situation,” Swinney said. “It is just like coming out of high school where you can pick a situation where you want to be and go and it is a good fit for you. Whereas when you are drafted you do not have any say in that. It is not all bad. Ben Boulware, I’m not worried about. He will do just fine.”
It also will help the All-American linebacker that he will come into rookie mini-camp with a chip on his shoulder because he was passed over in the draft. After high school, Boulware continuously drew from the hate of others who said he would never make it at Clemson.
Boulware became the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and an All-American this past season as he helped guide the Tigers to the program’s first national championship since 1981. He also won the Jack Lambert Award as the nation’s best linebacker. He played all four seasons for the Tigers and started the last two years. He led Clemson with 131 tackles in 2016 and was second on the team with 138 in 2015.
Swinney can definitely see a situation where Boulware will come into camp fired up and ready to prove every one wrong.
“If he would have been taken in the first round he would have rolled in with a chip on his shoulder,” the Clemson coach said smiling. “That is kind of who Ben is. He is a football player. He shines in between the lines.”