Tuesday Draft Notes -- 16.0

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

Underclassmen wanting to enter the draft have just six days left to petition the league, and we have yet to hear from the big names at Clemson. So what gives? We'll also hit on the latest from training centers around the nation as players begin to prepare for the Shrine Game, Senior Bowl and Combine.

Many believed it was a foregone conclusion the three eligible underclassmen on Clemson’s dominant defensive line would all enter the draft, as all three project as first-round selections. But we’ve yet to hear a peep from Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant.

There’s a belief from some at Clemson that the longer this carries on, the less likely the trio will enter the draft. Scouts have been telling people they believe Ferrell will return for another season with the Tigers.

So what’s next?

I’ve learned the three are a tight-knit bunch along with true sophomore Dexter Lawrence, who could be the best NFL prospect on the Tigers defensive line. My Clemson source feels there’s a distinct possibility that Wilkins, Ferrell and Bryant are all discussing their choices collectively and could potentially make a group decision. All three are described as intelligent men of high character who are well-regarded by the Clemson community.

Of course we can’t forget the ability of Clemson coach Dabo Swinney to re-recruit his star players. In the past, Swinney has been able to persuade highly rated prospects such as Vic Beasley and C.J. Spiller to return to campus and play their senior seasons in a Clemson uniform.

It would shock many at Clemson if all three returned to play for the Tigers this fall, but the silence of Wilkins, Ferrell and Bryant is deafening. 

Staying in the ACC, Josh Sweat of Florida State looks like the early favorite to be this year’s workout warrior at the combine. The pass rusher ran the 40 in 4.4 seconds in high school at about 240 pounds. Sweat is expected to tip the scales around 250 pounds in Indianapolis and will run in the low 4.5s.

During the combine, doctors will closely inspect Sweat’s knee to examine a significant injury he sustained during his high school days. If he’s cleared medically, Sweat could be a big riser leaving Indianapolis.

I’m told fellow Floridian Chris Herndon has been struggling significantly of late with a knee injury he sustained late last year.

The Miami tight end entered the season with a Day 3 draft grade from scouts and looked good when he was on the field, finishing with 40 receptions, 477 receiving yards and four TDs -- all career marks. After missing two games early in the season, Herndon was declared done for the year after injuring the MCL in his left knee during the Hurricanes' upset loss to Pittsburgh on November 24.