Clemson football: Five former Tigers that have outplayed their original draft spot


Clemson football has had more than 60 players drafted since 2009 when head coach Dabo Swinney had the “interim” label removed.

Only Alabama and Nick Saban have had more than Clemson football and Coach Swinney during that same time frame. While Clemson has had several players flame out and not live up to their draft spot, what about those that have played beyond the round or overall number that they were selected at?

While the Tigers don’t have a Tom Brady type over the last decade (Brady was selected 199th overall), they do have several players that have played well beyond where they were drafted.

Four of these players are active and currently producing at an elite level, even by NFL standards. A couple of them have won a Super Bowl and all of them have helped a team win at least one playoff game during their NFL careers.

Here are the five players drafted since 2009 that have played well beyond their draft position.

5. Dwayne Allen, TE

Dwayne Allen was drafted 64th overall in 2012 by the Indianapolis Colts. He spent five years with the Colts where he started 56 of the 57 games he appeared in.

Allen averaged nearly 12 yards a catch and ended his time in Indianapolis with almost 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns. While the production does not blow anyone away, he was instrumental to the Colts offense and quarterback Andrew Luck during his time there and that does not always show up on a stat sheet.

Dwayne spent the last two active years of his career in New England and would help them win a Super Bowl LIII. He signed a two year with the Dolphins prior to this last season but was given an injury settlement and has not signed with a team this offseason.

4. DeAndre Hopkins, WR

How good are the Top 3 on this list? One of the best receivers in the NFL comes in at number four. DeAndre is considered one of the two best receivers in the game by most fans and experts, though there are some that forget about him.

Nuk was drafted by the Texans at 27th overall in the 2013 NFL draft and since then has set the NFL on fire. In 2018, he ended the season with more than 100 catches and did not drop a single pass. He is a two-time All-Pro selection and was former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson’s go-to playmaker.

In 2020, Nuke will be suiting up for the Arizona Cardinals and will surely take Isaiah Simmons under his wing as Simmons was taken 8th overall by the Cardinals in the NFL draft this past weekend.

3. D.J. Reader, DT

Like Hopkins, Reader was also drafted by the Texans, though at pick 166th overall in 2016.

Reader is one of those players that does not get enough publicity for what he does on the field simply because he takes up space and takes on double teams, allowing guys like J.J. Watt and Jadaveon Clowney to make plays.

If you notice, Clowney’s production did not skyrocket in Houston until Reader arrived and last year in Seattle his production fell to a career-low. Reader was so important to the Texans defense, that even future Hall of Fame defensive end J.J. Watt said Reader was the most important player on that defense.

After NFL free agency opened back in March, Reader bolted for the Benglas (can’t blame him) and will certainly help Von Miller get back on track.

If you were to redraft the 2016 class, there is little doubt that D.J. Reader would be a late first-round or early second-round pick.

2. Bashaud Breeland, CB

Bashaud Breeland has had quite the career already and not many people have taken notice of the former 102nd pick in the 2014 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins.

Breeland has started 78 of the 82 games he has appeared in and collected 12 interceptions, collecting at least two in every season except in 2017. Like D.J. Reader, Breeland has quietly become one of the better players at his position over the last couple of years.

He joined the Chiefs in 2019 on a one year deal and helped them win Super Bowl LIV. He signed a one-year $4.5 million contract to return to the Chiefs in 2020.

1.Grady Jarrett, DT

Grady Jarrett was the steal of the 2015 NFL Draft. His former Clemson teammate Vic Beasley was taken in the Top 10 that same year, but given their careers, Jarrett is clearly the one that should have gone in the Top 10.

He has become one of the Top 5 defensive tackles in the league while starting for his hometown Atlanta Falcons. Had the Falcons not blown the 28-3 Super Bowl lead in 2016, Grady more than likely would have been the MVP as he sacked Tom Brady three and a half times that night.

That night was his official coming-out party and Grady has not looked back since. During the 2019 offseason, Jarrett signed a new multiyear deal that made him one of the highest-paid defensive tackles in the NFL and then went out and had his first Pro Bowl year.

Next. Tigers set or tied several draft records over the weekend. dark

Grady is on his way to becoming the best defensive lineman to ever play for Clemson football.