Scouting the ACC: Clemson

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

It was a banner year for Clemson on the gridiron last season and after winning the national title, the program placed two players in the top half of Round 1. They will struggle to match those results over the next 10 months.

Unlike this past April, if Clemson puts any players into the first round of the draft they will come from the defensive side of the ball.

Several scouts grade defensive lineman Christian Wilkins as one of the top three NFL prospects in the nation. Personally I rate teammate Clelin Ferrell higher, but we’ll get to that later.

Wilkins is large, quick and relatively athletic and does a lot more than occupy gaps. He explodes off the snap, manhandles blockers and makes plays in space.

Wilkins displays himself as a playmaker, yet even with that the Clemson system limited him last year. 

Wilkins was out of position at defensive end most of 2017. And while it helped the Clemson defense, it didn’t help Wilkins the NFL prospect. In many ways it mirrored the woes of Malik McDowell at Michigan State, though Wilkins' motor runs at full speed more often than McDowell’s.

This year Wilkins will be shifted inside to defensive tackle, his natural position, where he’ll be able to wreak havoc on the opponents game plan. If he’s up to the challenge as I expect, then Wilkins will secure himself as a top-15 selection.

By comparison Clelin Ferrell is taller, leaner and much better rushing the passer. He overwhelms opponents with athleticism and a bit of power. I like Ferrell’s upside and growth potential and feel he has the makings of a top-10 pick if the pieces fall into place.