With most of the 32 teams in the NFL starting training camp on Wednesday, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney gave a little breakdown of some of his former players on ESPN’s NFL Live Monday. Swinney was on the set of NFL Live as part of his invite to be a part of ESPN’s Annual Car Wash.
This year, instead of bringing all the coaches from the ACC and the SEC, ESPN invited Swinney on Monday and Alabama head coach Nick Saban on Tuesday.
Of course Swinney was asked about former quarterback Deshaun Watson and what he expects from him this season, but he was also asked about former wide receivers Deandre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins as well as defensive end Vic Beasley.
Swinney also gave a shout out to former defensive tackle Grady Jarrett when host Wendi Nix asked him if he could pick one player to build his team with, who would it be.
“This guy is the heart and that is what happened with the Falcons. His second year, when they played in the Super Bowl, he had three sacks against Tom Brady,” Swinney said. “This guy is a relentless competitor. He is one of those guys that probably was not big enough, was not long enough, was not this and was not that, but yet this past year he was an alternate for the Pro Bowl.”
Swinney also loves the way Hopkins plays the game and says that is why is a true superstar in the NFL.
“He is a guy that has proven he is as good as there is, and it is so awesome to see,” the Clemson coach said. “The thing that makes him so great, and obviously he has physically matured and he is stronger and all of that, but his competitiveness and his toughness, his will to win and his ball skills are second to none.
“You saw that in Deandre Hopkins all from … I watched him from the rec leagues through middle school and high school because he is from Clemson. He is right there from the Central area so he has been doing legendary things like that since he was in the pee wee league around Clemson.”
Hopkins is a two-time All Pro and Pro Bowl selection for the Houston Texans.
As for Watkins, who now plays with the Kansas City Chiefs, Swinney still believes in the former first-round draft pick and thinks he is still a superstar in the making.
“The guy has been very productive when he has been healthy and so forth,” Swinney told Nix. “If he stays healthy, he is going to be unbelievable. He is a great football player. He is explosive and has done a lot of good things.
“It is good to see him settle in at Kansas City and he is ready for a bright future.”
Watkins ranks fourth among all NFL receivers in yards per catch with a minimum of 100 catches.
Beasley, who plays with Jarrett in Atlanta, led the NFL in sacks in 2016 with 15.5 and is considered one of the best pass rushers in the game.
“He is explosive. He is fast. Obviously, in his second year he led the NFL in sacks. You don’t luck up and do that,” Swinney said. “I think the biggest thing with him is getting him in the right spot and letting him do what he does best and that is rush the passer.
“He is so much better at playing the run than he gets credit for, but this guy can flat get after the quarterback. I think as long as he wants to play and he stays healthy, he is going to be impactful. His get off and his strength, people don’t realize how strong he is, and his relentlessness really separates him. He is a very, very unique player at that position in the NFL.”
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