The rise of Clemson football has had a lot to do with their dominance on the defensive line over the last five seasons.
There is an argument that Clemson football has become “DLU” – defensive line university. For those that may not understand the lingo, it means that the Tigers have become the program to play for if you have hopes of getting to the NFL.
In the 2019 NFL draft alone, the Tigers had four defensive linemen taken in the NFL draft; three of which were selected in the first round. Over the last five drafts, Clemson has had four edge rushers taken in the NFL draft, which is good for fifth-best in the country behind Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, and Wisconsin.
Using the same criteria above – those drafted over the last five NFL drafts (2016-2020), Clemson is in very elite company, though this should not come as a shock if you have been paying attention to college football the last five years.
Clemson football defensive lineman drafted since 2016
Overall, Clemson football has had eight (8) defensive lineman drafted since 2016. Only Alabama and Ohio State have had more during that time; both the Crimson Tide and Buckeyes have had 10 defensive linemen drafted by NFL teams.
There are several Clemson football players that will be eligible for the 2021 draft, including, Nyles Pickney, Justin Foster, Xavier Thomas, K.J. Henry, Jordan Williams, and Darnell Jeffries. More than likely everyone will be back for the 2021 season except for Xavier Thomas and Nyles Pickney. Thomas will likely declare for the NFL draft and Pickney is a fifth-year senior.
Clemson football develops DL better than most SEC schools
Over the last five drafts, LSU has had just four defensive linemen drafted and the most shocking is UGA who has had just one defensive lineman drafted since 2016 and that was Lorenzo Carter in 2018.
Between the 2013-2017 signing classes, UGA signed (17) 4-star or higher rated defensive lineman, and thus far, only one (Carter) has been drafted.
In all fairness, Lamont Gaillard was a highly ranked defensive tackle who moved to center and was a sixth-round selection in 2019. Back in 2015, UGA signed Trenton Thompson who was the top player in the country as a defensive tackle and he is the only 5-star defensive lineman to never be drafted and is currently with the Roughriders in the CFL.
While Clemson football may not officially be home to “DLU” but they are close and will only strengthen their argument over the next few years as young guys like Tyler Davis, Myles Murphy, and Brian Bresee develop and dominate college football.