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Scouting the Clemson roster: Deon Cain

The Clemson Insider gives a scouting report on every player on Clemson’s two-deep depth chart. We will break down what the player does best, what he needs to work on, how he compares to former players at his position and where we see him fit on the Clemson roster.

Player name:  Deon Cain

Player position:  Wide receiver (boundary position)

Years left of eligibility:  2 years

Projected rank on depth chart: First

Player productivity so far: Cain busted onto the scene as one of Clemson’s biggest downfield threats in 2015, and only enhanced that reputation last year. The junior has 72 ca­reer receptions for 1,306 yards and 14 touchdowns in 28 games, including one start. He is averaging 18.1 yards per catch over his career, the fourth-best figure in Clemson history and third-best among active ACC players.

What player does best: Cain is extremely fast and always finds a way to get open downfield. He is a big-play receiver. He has 11 touchdowns in his career of 35 or more yards. He has great ball skills and in the open field he is the most dangerous player the Tigers have because of his wiggle and his ability to make people miss. He is extremely difficult tackle in space.

What player needs to work on: Cain needs to focus on being more consistent. He could also be more physical when trying to get open so he is not getting jammed at the line of scrimmage. As good as he is at making big-time catches and making big-time plays, he has also had his fair share of drops. He also seems to play less late in games which could be due to his inconsistencies at time or he is not where he needs to be from a physical standpoint when it comes to making plays late in football games. Either way he has to improve in both areas.

Productivity of former Clemson players at the position (first year and last):  
Mike Williams, 2014: Had 57 receptions for 1,030 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 18.1 yards per catch. He had a long of 56 yards and averaged 79.2 yards per game.

Mile Williams, 2016: He had 98 receptions for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns. He averaged 13.9 yards per catch with a long of 50 yards. He averaged 90.7 yards per game.

Deandre Hopkins, 2010: Had 52 receptions for 637 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 12.3 yards per catch with a long of 45 yards. He averaged 53.1 yards per game.

Deandre Hopkins, 2012: He had 82 receptions for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns. He averaged 18.1 yards per catch with a long of 62 yards. He averaged 108.1 yards per game.

What can we hope for? Cain gets more consistent and becomes more of a dominant player. He has the potential because of his size and speed to be even more productive than both Hopkins and Williams. He does not high-point the ball as well as they do, but he is more elusive and is obviously faster.

What is a realistic expectation? Because of Cain’s experience, it is realistic for him to catch 100 passes and total more than 1,000 yards and score more than 10 touchdowns. In his first two seasons he has ranked third and second on the team in receiving yards and has 14 career touchdowns, including nine last season as Williams’ backup.

What about the future? This will perhaps be Cain’s last year at Clemson, especially if he has the kind of year everyone is expecting him to have. If he has a big year and leads the Tigers in yards and catches like so many expect, then Cain could potentially be a first-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

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