A Look Ahead To The 2018 Draft: Defending Champion Clemson Tigers


Clemson Will Likely Send Another Impressive Crop Of Prospects To The 2018 Draft.


Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State have been featured in this series already. Now we turn our attention to the defending national champions, the Clemson Tigers.

Under coach Dabo Swinney the Clemson Tigers have turned into one of the top programs in college football. They have turned in double digit wins in each of the last six seasons. They’ve also sent a fair amount of players to the NFL. Nine players from Clemson were drafted in the 2016 draft and six during the 2017 draft.

Meet the Prospects:

Clemson will need to replace a lot of offensive production from last year’s team. They lost their quarterback, running back, tight end and two receivers from the offense. Also they lost a few key members of the defense.

Luckily for them however the cupboard is far from empty. Plenty of talent from last year’s team is left on the roster. Here are some of the players who could head to the 2018 draft after this season:

Defensive Tackle Christian Wilkins, 6’4” 310, Junior:

Wilkins is, at this point, probably the highest rated prospect that Clemson has. He was the highest ranked defender on Matt Miller’s latest 2018 big board. He offers more than football skills, he also has some impressive dance moves.

Wilkins performed well last season. He recorded 13 tackles for loss, three and a half sacks and added in nine pass deflections. In a 4-3 defense he projects as a defensive tackle but he could play end in a 3-4 scheme as well.

Another year of being consistently disruptive and there’s a great chance he will be selected in the first round of the 2018 draft.

Wide Receiver Deon Cain, 6’1” 210, Junior: 

So far in his Clemson career, Cain has proven to be a guy who can make big plays. He has shown the ability to locate the ball and go up and get it at its highest point and just flat out take the top off of the defense.

Last season he only caught 38 passes but he made the most of his opportunities. He average 19.1 yards per catch and nine of his catches went for a touchdowns.

Now that Clemson will be without receivers Mike Williams and Artavis Scott and tight end Jordan Leggett, Cain will have a chance to be a bigger part of the offense. He will have to adjust to a new quarterback but the future looks bright for Cain.

Offensive Tackle Mitch Hyatt, 6’5” 295, Junior:

The 2017 Draft was lacking in the offensive tackle department. The 2018 draft doesn’t look like it will have that issue. One of the prospects that will be the reason for that is Hyatt.

Hyatt started every game at left tackle for Clemson as a true freshman in 2015. It’s rare for a freshman to be handed that much responsibility. Over his two seasons as the left tackle he’s proven to be up to the task.

He’s proven to be a pretty solid blocker in the running game and in pass protection. He has been somewhat inconsistent during his career however. If he shows more consistency in his game next season he could end up being a high draft pick.

 

Offensive Guard Tyrone Crowder, 6’2” 340, Redshirt Senior:

Crowder is a large, strong man. His strength certainly works to his advantage as a run blocker. He does a great job of bulldozing defenders of out of the way to create holes.

He does a pretty decent job in pass protection as well. Occasionally he struggles blocking quicker defenders but generally he holds his own.

Crowder has two years of starting experience already under his belt. One more year of quality play and he will likely be a solid prospect for the 2018 draft.

Linebacker Kendall Joseph, 6’0” 230, Redshirt Junior:

Joseph is a bit smaller than most NFL linebackers. His size hasn’t stopped him from producing at a high level for Clemson however. 2016 was a very good year for Joseph. He logged 107 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and three and a half sacks.

Instincts and technique are what make Joseph a potential future pro. He needs to work on coverage skills however.

As long as Joseph has another year like he had in 2016 there is a strong chance he will be able to head to the draft. He won’t be an elite prospect but still a pretty decent one.

Defensive End Clelin Ferrell, 6’5” 265, Redshirt Sophomore:

Clemson has sent a number of defensive ends to the NFL in the recent past. Ferrell may be next in line. When he first got to Clemson he weighed only 225 lbs. He took a redshirt year as a freshman to put focus on adding weight.

He got off to kind of a slow start last year. As the year progressed he performed better and better. He ended the year with six sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.

NFL scouts will like Ferrell’s size and athleticism. Another good year and he will likely be heading to the NFL after this season.

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About the Author

Cory Hayes

I attend Central Michigan University, I am majoring in Journalism and minoring in Sport Management. I am a junior. I am from Marysville, MI. I love following sports, both professional and collegiate. I follow the Lions, Pistons, and Tigers very closely, and the college team that I choose to cheer for is Ohio State.