NFL Draft does not lie, Clemson’s 2018 defense is its best of all-time

NFL Draft does not lie, Clemson’s 2018 defense is its best of all-time


NFL Draft does not lie, Clemson’s 2018 defense is its best of all-time


One of the reasons why Clemson dominated its opponents so much in 2018 was due to its defense.

The Tigers won 13 of their 15 games by 20 or more points on their way to a third national championship, including a 28-point win over Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Why bring this up now?

Clemson Football’s social media team produced a graphic Monday showing that nine of its 11 starters from the 2018 defense were selected the last two years in the NFL Draft. Over the weekend, linebacker Isaiah Simmons, corner A.J. Terrell and safeties Tanner Muse and K’Von Wallace joined the club. Last year, defensive ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, as well as defensive tackles Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence, and corner Trayvon Mullen were all drafted.

With nine starters drafted, it represents the most by any of Clemson’s three national championship teams for one unit. The 1981 National Champions had six starters drafted from its defense, while the 2016 National Champions also had six from its defensive unit.

In 2018, Clemson had one of the best defenses in college football and one of the best in Clemson history as well. It was led by a defensive front that had four All-Americans in Ferrell, Bryant, Wilkins and Lawrence.

In all, with the draft classes combined, Clemson’s defense had five players—Ferrell, Wilkins, Lawrence, Simmons and Terrell—picked in the first round. One was in the second round (Mullen), while Muse was selected in the third round. Bryant and Wallace both were selected in the fourth round of their drafts.

The 2016 defense had three players selected in the first round—Ferrell, Wilkins and Lawrence—while the 1981 defense had two players taken in the opening round, defensive end Jeff Bryant in the 1982 Draft and safety Terry Kinard in the 1983 Draft.

The 2018 Clemson defense led the nation in scoring defense, yielding just 13.1 points per game. They were the first and only Clemson defense that can stake such a claim. They also led the nation in sacks (54) and tackles for loss (136).

The Tigers’ 54 sacks in 2018 set a new school record for sacks in a season.

Clemson also led the nation in yards per rush allowed (2.5) and were second in yards per play allowed (4.2) and rushing touchdowns allowed (8).

The Tigers finished fourth nationally in rushing yards allowed per game (96.3) and were fifth in total defense (285.9 yds/per game).

Ferrell won the 2018 Hendricks Award as the nation’s best defensive end, while Wilkins was the recipient of the Campbell Trophy, which is considered the academic Heisman.

Wilkins became Clemson’s fifth unanimous All-American in 2018, while Ferrell was a consensus All-American. Lawrence was a First-Team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, while Mullens was a second-team selection on the same team.

This past year, Simmons became the sixth player in Clemson history to earn unanimous All-American status, while also winning the Dick Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker. Muse was named a third-team All-American by the Associated Press.

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