Four former Tigers likely to be selected in the later rounds
It’s crazy to imagine a team that went 12-2, won a third straight conference championship and went to the College Football Playoff for a third straight year will not have anyone selected in tonight’s first round of the 2018 NFL Draft in Dallas.
That is exactly the case for the Clemson football program.
Clemson’s streak of five straight years of at least one former player taken in the first-round of the draft will come to an end tonight.
“This is the first time I have not been to the draft in a long time,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday from IPTAY’s Prowl & Growl event in Florence, S.C. “I think I have been five or six years in a row or so, but I will not be there this week.”
Instead, Swinney will be watching the first round of the NFL Draft at home. Clemson’s streak of first-round selections started in 2013, when Deandre Hopkins was chosen No. 27 overall in the 2013 draft by the Houston Texans. The following year Sammy Watkins went No. 4 overall to the Buffalo Bills.
In 2015 and in last year’s draft, two former Tigers were selected in the first round. Vic Beasley (No. 8 overall to Atlanta) and Stephone Anthony (No. 31 overall to New Orleans) were chosen in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, while Mike Williams (No. 7 overall to the L.A. Chargers) and Deshaun Watson (No. 12 to Houston) were picked in the first round of last year’s draft.
In 2016, former Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson was selected No. 19 overall by the Buffalo Bills in the first round.
“I don’t think we will have anybody drafted (tonight), but it is exciting because we are going to have several guys that will hear their name called (in the draft),” Swinney said.
As many as eight former Tigers could hear their name called in this year’s draft. However, it is likely, just five will be drafted.
Clemson’s first pick is likely to be former wide receiver Deon Cain, who is being considered as a late second-round to early third-round pick. Former linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, who a lot of NFL teams have been high on after his scouting combine performance in February, will likely be chosen in the third round.
“That is a dream come true,” Swinney said. “I don’t care if you are the first pick in the draft, the last pick in the draft or a free agent. Anytime you get an opportunity to get a chance in that league … what an accomplishment.”
Former wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud and former offensive guard Taylor Hearn could be drafted in the late rounds. Former offensive guard Tyrone Crowder and defensive backs Van Smith, Ryan Carter and Marcus Edmond are also eligible for the draft. However, they are likely to sign as free agents.
“I think we have several guys that will have an opportunity to hear their name called so it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out,” Swinney said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing how it plays out.”