Clemson Tigers look to improve their draft stock

Mar 2, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Clemson running back Wayne Gallman speaks to the media during the 2017 combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Clemson running back Wayne Gallman speaks to the media during the 2017 combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The NFL combine has kicked off this week and there is so much still left to be done. The measurements are in for each Clemson football player, but the real testing starts today.

Clemson has a school record 9 players in Indianapolis to be poked, prodded, and analyzed by NFL coaches and GMs, so let’s take a look at some key factors for each player’s ascension or descent in this draft.

Deshaun Watson. Teams were concerned that Watson would be shorter than 6’2, but he measured in at 6’2 1/2 and weighs 221 pounds. With passing drills and the 40 yard dash upcoming on Saturday, he will be able to give more insight into what his future could be like in the pros. Watch Jordan Palmer talk about Watson

I expect him to spin the ball with accuracy during drills and run between 4.7 and 4.8. Both won’t surprise anyone but a 40 time better than 4.7 could raise his draft stock.

Mike Williams. The biggest concern for scouts on Williams is his speed. He could be the hands down top receiver in the draft, if he can run a better than expected 40 time. His chief competition for that distinction is Western Michigan’s Corey Davis who is similar in stature but is perceived to be faster.

I think he runs a high 4.6. If he can average in the low 4.6s or high 4.5s, then ladies and gentlemen you have the top receiver in this year’s draft. Williams is suppose to run on March 4th, but it’s rumored that he may not run.

Jordan Leggett. Leggett is one of the best tight ends in the draft. After measuring in at over 6’5, he is also one of the biggest. Everyone knows that he can catch the ball, but questions remain about his blocking and overall athleticism. Blocking questions won’t be answered this weekend, so he will be watched closely during drills and the 40 yard dash.

Anything better than 4.7 in the 40, could improve his draft stock.

Wayne Gallman. His production on the field is almost hard to overlook. He gets yards, blocks well, and improved as a pass catcher. Any team would love to have someone who plays as hard as Gallman. But where scouts will zero in on Gallman’s game will be his speed. His intial burst is good, but does he have the ability to consistently break long runs after he hits the second level of the defense. Throughout his career, he hasn’t had many runs over 40 yards and that distance could determine how heavy is wallet becomes after draft day.

I think he might run a 4.7 which is not good for his position. A 4.6 won’t change his draft position, because no one expects him to run well, but 4.5 or better improves his position immensely.

Cordrea Tankersley

. This draft is loaded with defensive backs and Tankersley is listed as one of the best. But his projected draft position has been all over the place. I’ve seen from 2nd round to 4th round. The Combine will give him a chance to show scouts that he can change direction quickly and has good hip movement. The agility drills are where he will be watched closely, because he will probably run a 40 in the 4.4 to 4.5 range.

The biggest knock on “Tank” is his hand placement on receivers when the ball is in the air. At times, he is a little too grabby and it leads to penalties. Otherwise, look for him to test well and possibly move up in the draft. Speed is very important at the cornerback position, so Tankersley will have suitors once the Combine ends in Indianapolis.

Carlos Watkins. Watkins has been one of the best defensive tackles in college football the past two seasons. Like the cornerback position, defensive linemen are plentiful in this draft, so Watkins hasn’t gotten a lot of buzz in the media. In my opinion, his 40 yard dash and reps of 225 lbs could be important to help improve his draft position. NFL teams love linemen who have good power and display good speed and quickness. He has those attributes, and if he ranks high among participants this weekend, he will climb up the draft boards.

I do see Watkins running one of the best 40 times on Sunday.

Artavis Scott. Clemson’s all-time leading receiver will need a good showing this weekend to grab the attention of the scouts. After measuring at 5’10, his performance in the agility drills, 40 yard dash, and the vertical leap are important for this member of WRU. Throughout his career, Scott played with power and quickness, but his downfield speed has been questioned.

I think Scott will need a 4.5 in the 40 to get more teams attention. I realistically see him running 4.6 and jumping well. A less than stellar 40, like 4.65 to 4.7 would make the upcoming Clemson Pro Day very important to his draft status.

Ben Boulware. The leader of the Clemson team has already cleared one hurdle by measuring in at 6’0. His height was one of question marks about him along with speed and overall athleticism. His heart is probably bigger than any other competitor at the Combine, but his chance to win an NFL job will depend on a decent 40 time and a good showing in any drills that test movement.

The ultimate for Boulware is to be among the best in linebacker drills and be in the neighborhood of 4.7 in the 40. He loves proving doubters wrong, so I wouldn’t bet against him making an NFL team regardless of what happens on Sunday.

Jadar Johnson. Johnson made a lot of plays in the Clemson secondary and that playmaking ability landed him a spot in the Combine. Scouts took notice of how he tracked and high pointed the football on deep balls. He also tackled well too. His point of emphasis during his training has been speed. He knows that his speed could determine what happens with him on draft day.

Jadar should have a good vertical leap. But he will need a good 40 time and a good time for him will be 4.6 or better.

Watch the NFL Network at 9am for all Combine coverage from today until Monday. Here are the days that the Clemson Tigers are scheduled to compete:


Watson, Williams, Scott, and Leggett(Saturday)

Watkins and Boulware(Sunday)

Tankersley and Johnson(Monday)