10 QB Tajh Boyd (6’1″ 225 pounds, SENIOR)
Big time playmaker at the quarterback position who is drawing comparisons to Russell Wilson for his athletic ability and diverse skills offensively. Capable of making every throw and has great speed and quickness to make plays outside the pocket. Looks like he could be an ideal fit for the pistol style offenses that are taking the NFL by storm. Viewed by many as the number one prospect at the QB position in the country, and certainly one of the most productive and proven quarterbacks at the college level heading into his senior season. I think if he had come out after his junior season, he would have been heavily scrutinized but could very well have been the first QB selected over Florida State’s EJ Manuel. Doesn’t have the greatest size combination at 6’1″ 225 pounds and likely a bit shorter than that, but definitely doesn’t affect him on the field.
One of the things I noted about him going into his junior season was that he needed to improve his decision making with the ball, completing less than 60 percent of his passes, and he did just that. He improved his completion percentage to 67.2 percent and threw for even more yards and touchdowns with fewer passing attempts than a season before.
The main reason why this guy will be a first round pick is his toughness and ability to make a throw under pressure. His deep ball to DeAndre Hopkins (Houston Texans 2013 first round pick) in the opening minutes against Florida States is one of the gutsiest throws you will see from a quarterback. He stood tall in the pocket, fired to a spot downfield, and put his receiver in a position where he could make a big play. Six points. This is a very impressive quarterback prospect who has the look of a top 10 selection, and I think he will also contend for the number one pick. If he isn’t contending for the number one pick, it’s likely because of some kind of injury or flaw that develops over the course of his senior season, similar to what we saw happen to Matt Barkley.
Top notch footwork and pocket awareness that will only get better with another year on campus at Clemson. One area I would really like to see him improve is taking sacks. I realize he is a mobile quarterback, and so teams are gunning for him behind the line of scrimmage, but he has taken 62 sacks over the last two seasons. That’s far too many considering how often he also gets hit running the football on designed option plays and things like that.
Bottom line–I think Boyd is a sure-fire first rounder if he can prove that his junior season was not a fluke and that he has really improved as a passer. This is a guy who makes good decisions and offers a ton of versatility to an NFL offense. I think he has big time potential as a starter in the NFL.
2 WR Sammy Watkins (6’1″ 205 pounds, JUNIOR)
This is an impressive young prospect that I’ve been looking forward to evaluating. Doesn’t have size that will blow you away by any means, but he’s a solid 6’1″ 205 pound receiver who can work underneath, in the return game, out of the backfield, and deep down the field. He looks like a seasoned young player already in some of his route running. Catches the ball away from his frame and does a great job turning upfield after the catch. So quick in the open field and has great breakaway speed. Battled some injury issues in 2012, causing his numbers to take a huge dip after a freshman season where he took college football by storm, catching 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns. I think after a tough sophomore slump, this dynamic playmaker will show great development as a junior. He is now undeniably the top target of Tajh Boyd in the passing game with DeAndre Hopkins off to the NFL, and if he can come out healthy, he has a chance to be a top 15 selection or better in the 2014 NFL Draft. This is a strong receiver who does a good job tracking the ball and making plays in the red zone. I am really excited about his future in the NFL. With some seasoning, he could wind up being one of the best receivers in the game five or six years down the road.
63 OT Brandon Thomas (6’3″ 305 pounds, SENIOR)
One of the top returning senior offensive linemen in the entire country. Thomas has really good footwork and is the anchor for an offensive line that paves the way for one of the top offensive units in America. Protects the blind side of Tajh Boyd, one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and is consistently one of the highest graded linemen in the ACC. Coaches selected him as a second team All-Conference selection, while the media selected him to the first team. Some feel he has the versatility to play guard at the NFL level, as he doesn’t possess ideal size for the left tackle position in the NFL. Depending on arm length, guard could very well be his best position. Arrested in 2011 for disorderly conduct. Entering his third full year as a starter on the Clemson offensive line.
3 DE Vic Beasley (6’3″ 225 pounds, JUNIOR)
Beasley was a backup as a sophomore in 2012, but he led the team with eight sacks and also had eight tackles for loss. He started off his collegiate career as a tight end, then moved to linebacker, and now has settled in at the DE position where he is a pass rush specialist for the Tigers.
Last year, Beasley proved he has a bright future as a pass rusher, but he is still extremely raw. He is not the ideal size for a defensive end and needs to add muscle to his frame, probably at least 15 pounds to hold up on an NFL front seven. That fact alone leads me to believe that Beasley won’t make his way to the NFL until after his senior season, but you never know.
This is an impressive athlete with pass rushing ability that has scouts buzzing about his talent. He has good quickness off the snap and is a very speedy defensive lineman, as you’d expect from a player of his size. Clemson has done a good job of churning out pass rushers to the NFL in recent years, and Beasley could be the next in line.
50 DT Grady Jarrett (6’2″ 290 pounds, JUNIOR)
Jarrett is an intriguing underclassmen at the DT position. He has a solid, thick build and plays with good quickness. He finished the 2012 season third on the team with 8.5 tackles for loss and also added two sacks and five QB pressures from his interior DL position. Jarrett is a name to watch going forward, even if he’s not likely to leave after his junior season.