Last January, Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant decided to return to Clemson for one more year. At the time it shocked everyone because most people thought they could be first-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, especially Wilkins and Ferrell, who have been two of the more dominant defensive players in college football the last two years.
However, when Bryant, Ferrell and Wilkins spoke to the media for the first time a few weeks after making their decisions to return, they told us they were not given first-round grades, which played a role in their return to Clemson for one last season.
Though the new college football season is less than two months away, one of the first mock drafts of the year was released earlier this week by Sports Illustrated. And guess what, two of the young men that decided to return to Clemson for one final season are in the top 10.
SI writer Albert Breer has Ferrell, Wilkins and junior defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence all going in the top 10 picks of the 2019 NFL Draft.
So what changed?
First off Breer is not a member of the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Secondly, everyone is expecting all three players and Bryant to have big years up front. Bryant is not listed in the top 10 but there is speculation the defensive end could go later in the first round as well.
However, three in the top 10?
Breer feels Ferrell will go first with the No. 4 overall pick to Buffalo. He has Lawrence following right behind him at No. 5 to the Cincinnati Bengals, while Wilkins is No. 8, going to the Cleveland Browns.
Granted, a lot can change between now and April’s draft, but just the thought of Clemson having three players taken in the first 10 picks is something to think about.
Look at it this way, Clemson could possibly have three players taken in the first 10 picks when it is history it has just two players taken in the first round four times, 1979, 1982, 2015 and 2017.
Breer says about Ferrrell, “Part of the question with Ferrell is centered on his measurables, but he has an incredible knack for beating tackles and getting to the quarterback. And, yes, the Bills have a checkered history with drafting Clemson players, but Ferrell is where fit meets need and both meet position value.”
The SI writer is also high on Lawrence, saying Lawrence is an absolute monster and a boulder to move in the running game, “with the athletic potential to become a high-end disrupter in the passing game.”
“He is probably the most gifted of the Clemson defensive linemen with the most room to grow,” Breer writes.
As for Wilkins, Breer calls him a “freakish up-field interior pass-rusher who will fit best in the kind of scheme that Cleveland’s run (defense) under Greg Williams uses – one that attacks, attacks and attacks.”
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