10 Tajh Boyd, Quarterback, Junior 6’1″ 225 pounds
Boyd is a very interesting prospect. He was having a huge year as a sophomore, leading the Tigers to an 8-0 record prior to really struggling toward the end of the season. You saw Clemson get hammered against West Virginia in their bowl game. Boyd has a strong arm, is capable of making any throw, and can make plays with his legs, but he makes a lot of questionable decisions. That doesn’t take away from the fact that he will have a future in the NFL. Clemson has underachieved once again in 2012, and so has Boyd. He likely won’t be entering the 2013 NFL draft, but if he does, I think he will get drafted in the middle rounds. He has intriguing tools but is not quite as tall as you’d like a quarterback to be, and he doesn’t make great decisions at every juncture. This is a player to keep an eye on, certainly a Heisman candidate if he returns for his senior season.
23 Andre Ellington, Running Back, Senior 5’10” 195 pounds
Ellington is one of the top running back prospects in the draft, and he combines speed with quickness and elusiveness. Despite the fact that Clemson has had a ton of top tier backs in the fold, Ellington has managed to be extremely productive even dating back to his freshman season. He had his first 1,000 yard season as a junior where he also rushed for 11 touchdowns. He also has good value as a receiver and return specialist. One player you could compare him to that’s already in the NFL would be Chris Johnson, though I don’t know that he’s quite that fast. Not an especially threatening runner on the inside, but when he gets outside he is a threat to score any time he touches the ball. He has great quickness to the hole and runs with an edge. Really solid balance and vision, and looks like the kind of back that can carry a heavy load at the NFL level as a team’s featured back. A little on the smaller side, so he won’t be breaking a ton of tackles, but you’ll draft him with the hope that he runs around most tackles rather than trying to run through them.
6 DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, Junior 6’1″ 205 pounds
Hopkins has by far and away run off with Clemson’s top receiver spot after Sammy Watkins had a stellar freshman season just a year ago. Watkins has struggled with injuries and inconsistencies while Hopkins has stolen the spotlight at Clemson in 2012. Through the team’s first seven games, he leads the Tigers with 52 receptions for 845 yards and nine touchdowns. Though not as tall as ideal, Hopkins does a good job of snatching the ball out of the air and making the play at its highest point. Big play threat with good speed and I love his elusiveness after the catch. He is averaging over 16 yards per reception so far this season, proving that he is a consistent downfield threat.
31 Rashard Hall, Safety, Senior 6’2″ 210 pounds
Big, rangy safety prospect who leads the team in his senior season in interceptions. Very good tackler who combines size and speed, as well as playmaking ability. Following up a junior season where he had 86 tackles and two interceptions, and really burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2009 where he had six interceptions and 55 tackles. Hasn’t exactly followed up that kind of production in terms of interceptions, but has been a very consistent performer in the Clemson secondary. He should be one of the top safeties in his class of players this year. Does a good job playing centerfield and dissecting the play as it happens. I think he is a really underrated player going forward.
5 Jonathan Meeks, Safety, Senior 6’1″ 210 pounds
Meeks is a solid safety prospect who got his first two interceptions of the season in week seven, but has been a solid tackler all year and has proven over the last couple of years that he is a reliable playmaker in the defensive backfield. He has a good combination of size and speed and when he gets to the NFL level, he will likely start out contributing as a key special teams player but I think he can develop into a solid rotational safety. His breakaway speed after the interception was evident when he picked off Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas and sprinted to the end zone for the first touchdown of his career. He should be available in the middle-late rounds and I think he is a really solid value pickup.
55 Dalton Freeman, Center, Senior 6’4″ 286 pounds
Freeman is a leader on the Clemson offensive line and the lone returning starter for the 2012 season. He is considered one of the best offensive linemen in the country, and certainly one of the best at his position. He is one the Rimington Award watch list as a recognition for the nation’s top center. He is one of the top player leaders on the team, and is a guy who can come in and probably start right away. He was a highly recruited prospect four years ago, and he wound up starting at center all four years for the Tigers. He has overall solid size, but a little less bulk than you’d like out of a center. I think he will be a very solid NFL player, if even as a backup lineman, and could be had in the middle to late rounds of the draft.