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The NFL draft is next month and I love to follow the SCVarsity.com alumni
players as they pursue their dreams of playing at the ultimate level of their
sport - the NFL. Here's a look at the eight most likely candidates to make a
roster and get to Sunday's from this class of players.
Those who know me
know that some of my favorite events include combines, camps, and the NFL draft.
I always enjoy seeing how the kids who we have followed in South Carolina since
their freshman year of high school will end up doing eight years later when the
opportunity to get to the ultimate level of their sport is presented. Few get
the opportunity to get this close to achieving their dream and it is a tribute
to their hard work and the outstanding coaching they've had at the high school
and collegiate level to see this opportunity presented to them.
There are at
least ten SCVarsity.com Alumni whom I believe will get the opportunity to
prove themselves in an NFL camp this year. Of the ten, I think six or seven are
legitimate draftable players, though it will more than likely four or five who
actually get selected. Outside of those, however, the rest will get
opportunities to get into a camp and prove themselves.
Every one of these
players were SCVarsity.com All-State football players and all were ranked inside
the SCVarsity.com Top Twenty-Five players for their class. Here is how I think
they will do in the pursuit of their dream of playing football at the next
WGT: 195 POS: Cornerback
Gilmore has a tremendous upside and, in my opinion, probably has better
coverage skills than some of those that the NFL guides have in front of him;
he will surprise in camp with his press ability and is probably a more physical
tackler than the other elite corners in the draft. This is a very solid
position this season but Gilmore should be one of the top three or four CBs
taken and should be a day one pick.
Projection: He is a definite day one, round one pick; probably a
middle of first round but I think he could be the 2nd CB pick of the
6'4 WGT: 230 POS: WR
Jeffery is not the most disciplined route runner in the world and the
knock on him from scouts I've talked to is that they worry about the plays
he takes off far more than his abilities to make plays. He's got a great
frame, attacks the ball at its highest point, is powerful in snatching
ball away from defenders, and is a physically tough player. Speed and
route refinement are things they want to see improve but is a solid pick.
Projection: More than likely a 2nd round pick; Blackmon (Justin)
will be the first WR off of the board but there are at least three or four
other teams who will take a WR in round one. The question will be, where
do they put Jeffery on their board. I think he goes day one, 2nd
BRIAN QUICK, WR, APPALACHIAN STATE UNIVERSITY (RIDGEVIEW HS)
6'4 WGT: 210 POS: WR
Brian Quick is an outstanding prospect in this draft; the big question
mark on him is going to be the level of competition he's played against in
relation to where the scouts have him projected, which is pretty high as
an "X" receiver. He's got outstanding speed, great vertical
ability, and makes big plays. Attacks the ball well and wins the aerial
battles over defenders. Question on him is his "adaptability" to
the NFL but this is a young man who had the same questions on him making
the transition from HS to college; I think he'll do very well.
Projection: Look for him to be a surprise in the draft and go in
the third round.
JOSH NORMAN, CB, COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY (GREENWOOD HS)
6'0 WGT: 205 POS: CB
In a very deep position on the draft board, Josh Norman is a player who
could find himself going on the first day of the draft. he's got great
coverage skills including the ability to pop his hips and run and his
reaction and break speed to the ball is incredible.
Projection: Could be a day one guy in the 2nd round, but more
than likely a third round pick.
6'0 WGT: 190 POS: FS/CB
Bethel is the "sleeper" of this group of guys. He put up great
numbers for the scouts and has impressive decorations from the FCS level,
including Big South records for blocked kicks and solo tackles (199). Four
year starter for the Blue Hose; is very raw in skills but with measurables,
has a huge upside and well worth a pick. Despite his tackle record, he has
some work to do in that area but should do well in a camp.
Projection: I think this former Blythewood HS defensive MVP is a
5th round pick, possibly as late as 6th.
RYAN STEED, CB, FURMAN UNIVERSITY (PINEWOOD PREP)
5'11 WGT: 190 POS: CB
Steed is another strong defensive back in a year that there are many to
choose from. He's got good size and ability, is physical and solid in the
ground game defense. He could have very well been a 3rd round pick, but a
poor 40 time at the combine will hurt his place on the boards.
Projection: Possibly a late round pick - 6th or 7th - but don't
be surprised if he drops off the draft board to a preferred free agent
6'2 WGT: 225 POS: WR
Hemingway is a solid prospect because of his abilities as a possession
receiver; he's physical and can make the tough catches; he's got very good
speed and because of his build, is a guy who could line up inside and give
you a solid target who is sure handed in traffic.
Projection: I think Hemingway is worth a draft pick but if he is
taken, it will be a late round. This is a VERY deep class of wide
receivers and there are at least ten or twelve guys who project as
"Z" receivers ahead of him on most boards.
CHAD DIEHL, FB, CLEMSON UNIVERSITY (JAMES F. BYRNES HS)
WGT: 250 POS: FULLBACK
The fullback position is a "dying breed" in the NFL supposedly,
but the need for the guy who can do multiple things for your offense, and
bring high level special teams play to the table still exists; the problem
is that the need doesn't match the value of a draft pick in most cases -
at least not early round picks. Diehl is a powerful, hard-nosed player
with special teams experience and I think he will get a chance to camp
somewhere. His lack of showcase of running and catching ability will hurt
as a draft pick, though.
Projection: I wouldn't be shocked if he got a chance as a very
late pick - 7th round - but more than likely will be a preferred free
agent and get invited to the camps. He is a solid enough athlete to make a
roster if given a chance on the special teams.
MASON CLOY, C, CLEMSON UNIVERSITY (SPRING VALLEY HS)
6'3 WGT: 295 POS: CENTER
Cloy was one of the top offensive linemen in the state during his senior
year at Spring Valley High School, grading out on top among a very
talented offensive line for the Vikings. He's played to necessity at the
college level, seeing time at both guard and center. Because of the
offense he's cut his teeth in, he's more of a zone guy on the line but has
great strength and good size and his biggest upside has always been his
Projection: I'm not sure he'll be a preferred free agent, but I
do think he'll get in a couple of camps and have a chance at showing his
BRANDON BOSTIC, WR, NEWBERRY COLLEGE (WEST FLORENCE HS)
6'4 WGT: 230 POS: WR
Bostic is an intriguing player; he's captured the eyes of scouts and has
been on their "watch" boards for a couple of seasons now. He's a
big bodied, physical receiver who has great vertical ability, attacks the
ball well, and makes some difficult catches. A couple of knocks in the
scouting circles are that he has had episodes of "drops" and
there is some questions about his work ethic and taking plays off. That
said, he's go the skills to win a roster spot with hard work and the
Projection: I don't think he's high enough on any board to get a
draft pick and if he is, it will be a very late round pick. But he's got
the skills and raw ability and upside that he could very well win a roster
spot in a camp. He's definitely known among the scouts and their awareness
of him gives him a pretty good shot.