With players like Vic Beasley, Deandre Hopkins, BJ Goodson, Grady Jarrett, and Sammy Watkins carrying the torch for the Clemson Tigers in the National Football League, now is the time to look ahead and preview which current Tigers will make a splash in the big leagues.

Christian Wilkins, Defensive Tackle

Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins compares closely to one of the NFL’s best at the position, Gerald McCoy. Both players offer surprising strength and athleticism for their relatively compact frames.

That blend allows for disruptive plays against the run, as well as strong pass rush ability. Wilkins also offers versatility, having played multiple positions for the Tigers. It’s hard to find a pair of players who have more fun and play with more tenacity than Christian Wilkins and Gerald McCoy.

Deon Cain, Wide Receiver

Wide Receiver Deon Cain has been praised for his elite athleticism and big play ability since he joined the Tigers. He’s also struggled with drops at times and dealt with off-field issues early in his career. As a result, he has yet to become the true top threat in the Clemson receiving corps that some had envisioned him as.

His trajectory as a football player is similar to former Clemson Tiger Martavis Bryant. With tantalizing combinations of speed, size, and talent, both players possess the traits pro teams want in their top receivers. However, failure to address a combination of minor issues could result in these players failing to reach their full potential.

Mitch Hyatt, Offensive Tackle

Mitch Hyatt became the Tigers starting left tackle the moment he joined the team and has held that spot down ever since.

He has proven himself to be one of the best offensive lineman in the collegiate ranks throughout his Clemson career. With outstanding blocking ability in both the run and pass game and the desired toughness, Hyatt’s only red flag is his size. Standing a shade under 6’5″ and weighing around 300 pounds, Hyatt may not have the desired measurements to be a starting left tackle in the NFL.

As a result, his pro comparison is Cowboys offensive lineman Zack Martin. Both left tackles in college with undeniable talent who may not be likely to maintain the same position after school, but possess all the tools and technique necessary to succeed at any position.

Dorian O'Daniel, Linebacker

Linebacker Dorian O’Daniel may not be receiving the same draft buzz as some of the other players on this list, but he’s got a great shot at playing and making a splash on Sundays. O’Daniel flies across the field with a nose for the football and speed uncommon for a linebacker.

Watching him, you might mistake him for a free safety due to his great coverage ability and slighter frame. He reminds me of Telvin Smith when he was still playing for Florda State. Scouts will knock him for his size and perceived lack of strength, claiming that he won’t be able to withstand the rigors of being a starting NFL linebacker. Truthfully, his athleticism and coverage ability make him the type of defender that teams need to contend in the modern NFL.

Clelin Ferrell, Defensive End

Clelin Ferrell uses his superb blend of length and explosiveness to wreak havoc as a pass rusher for the Clemson Tigers. While he lacks the elite speed that you’d like out of an edge defender, he makes up for it by being a reliable force in run defense. He is the ideal prospect for a traditional 4-3 defensive end position.

My pro comparison for him is another former Tiger, current Tennessee Titan Kevin Dodd. Dodd possessed similar length and explosiveness, while also having a penchant for post-season success playing second fiddle along a talented Tigers defensive line.

Austin Bryant, Defensive End

Ferrell’s fellow pass-rushing prospect is Austin Bryant. The junior defensive end is in the midst of a breakout season, following a 2016 campaign in which he struggled with injuries.

Bryant has a surprising level of bend and fluidity in his game, hiding within his massive, sturdy frame. Emmanuel Ogbah of the Cleveland Browns comes to mind when watching Austin Bryant. They both possess a startling combination of size, strength, and athleticism. A more refined and varied set of pass rush moves could put him over the top.

Kendall Joseph, Linebacker

Starting middle linebacker Kendall Joseph is one of the more underrated players on Clemson’s highly touted defense. Joseph is an excellent leader on the defensive side and runs his unit with confidence.

He also has excellent instincts against both pass and run. He plays downhill and racks up tackles all over the field, though he does not always play as strong through the point of attack as one might like. His size might be another concern for pro teams. His pro comparison is Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks.

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Author Details
I hail from Yonkers, New York by way of Clemson, South Carolina. I’m a lifelong Giants, Mets, and Knicks fan. After witnessing the Miracle at the Meadowlands Part II in person, combined with years of ineptitude on and off the field of play from the Mets and Knicks, I moved down South and was relieved to adopt the Clemson Tigers as my college team of choice. I believe Giants players own the two greatest catches in NFL history, James Dolan and the Wilpons are conspiring to ruin New York sports, and I’m still campaigning for Deshaun Watson to win that Heisman. In addition to writing for Armchair All-Americans, I am a comedian and improviser with the Alchemy Comedy Theater in Greenville, South Carolina.
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I hail from Yonkers, New York by way of Clemson, South Carolina. I’m a lifelong Giants, Mets, and Knicks fan. After witnessing the Miracle at the Meadowlands Part II in person, combined with years of ineptitude on and off the field of play from the Mets and Knicks, I moved down South and was relieved to adopt the Clemson Tigers as my college team of choice. I believe Giants players own the two greatest catches in NFL history, James Dolan and the Wilpons are conspiring to ruin New York sports, and I’m still campaigning for Deshaun Watson to win that Heisman. In addition to writing for Armchair All-Americans, I am a comedian and improviser with the Alchemy Comedy Theater in Greenville, South Carolina.
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