With spring football practice going on, the basketball team’s run to the Sweet 16 and the baseball team’s great start, it seems as if everyone has forgotten about the 2018 NFL Draft.
In case you have forgotten, Clemson should be represented in the draft, but maybe not as well as last year when six former players were drafted.
Former Clemson linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, as well as former wide receivers Ray-Ray McCloud and Deon Cain, headline the Tigers’ draft class. Former right guard Tyrone Crowder and left guard Taylor Hearn, along with defensive back Ryan Carter are also in the mix for being selected by an NFL team when the draft begins on April 26.
O’Daniel, who visited Houston on Wednesday, is one of the fast risers in this year draft after he showed off his versatility at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. The All-American is considered one of the most athletic linebackers in the draft after putting up the best three-cone and shuttle times at the combine.
“He has defensive back speed and linebacker mentality,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said.
O’Daniel said on the NFL Network’s Good Morning Football earlier this week that Swinney’s description of him was a good representation of what he can do if he is given the opportunity.
“I do like to think I have a lot of speed,” O’Daniel said. “I do have the mentality of a linebacker. I covered slots all season so anytime I had the opportunity to cover a running back or a tight end that was slot work.
“I’m just confident in my ability and knowing my strengths and weaknesses led ultimately to how I played on the field.”
O’Daniel led the Tigers with 104 stops last year, including 11.5 tackles for loss. He also broke up five passes and had two interceptions which he returned for touchdowns.
O’Daniel said he is definitely a linebacker. There have been teams that asked if he could play safety, and though he feels he can do that, he personally thinks he is a linebacker.
Guys like Jacksonville’s Telvin Smith, Atlanta’s Deon Jones and Tampa’s Kwon Alexander are players he models his game after.
“They give me hope,” O’Daniel said. “So often, smaller linebackers get lost in translation by the way the game is going, but the traditional 250 (pound) linebacker is out the door. The way the league is going with the whole spread offense, you need guys to cover the Gronkowskis and the Travis Kelces, those fast tight ends.
“Me, being an undersized linebacker as people will say, I think I bring that to the table.”
The 2018 NFL Draft will be held April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.