As the #1 fan of the Clemson Tigers on this blog, I have watched all of their games. I've watched the players, I have studied their motions and the way they play their game. I have analyzed and over analyzed the juniors and seniors on this team and I have come up with my grades on all of the prospects coming out into the NFL Draft.
Unlike the rest of these Draft Guru's who I believe have been concentrating far too much on physical body size lately instead of actual skill, I will give two grades when I grade a particular talent! The first will be the ceiling grade. What is the limit this player can rise to as a professional football player? That's how I will rate them. The second will be the NFL readiness. This grade will be based on their performance on the field during the freshman years all the way down to when they finally declare for the draft. Are they ready for the NFL right out of the gate and reach their ceiling, or will they have to develop more? So....sort of like Madden!
With these two grades and my special knowledge about the team that I love, I will do my best to grade their players in a brutally honest, professional way. Not every player is going to be rate with a: "99! Oh my gawd! This player is the best player ever at his position just like every other Clemson Tiger!" I am a natural pessimist at heart, and I will let you know how I feel about my guys. A lot of it is going to go against popular opinion as well, but I assure you it comes from someone that has done his homework. At least as far as watching his players on the field are concerned!
DaQuan Bowers - DE - 6,3 280 pounds - Projected Top 10 pick
Ceiling Grade: 94 NFL Ready grade: 75
DaQuan Bowers had a excellent junior season. To try to deny this is to wear a dunce-cap and prance around as the greatest moron on Earth. 41 tackles, 15.5 sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble. Those are the statistics that seem to propel you into the top of the first round nowadays, and yet I find myself highly pessimistic about the player that made them.
It's important to remember that in spite of being the #1 high school prospect coming into Clemson, he only made 4 sacks his first two seasons. Red flag. In spite of reports that he was very healthy and practicing for the combine he decided at the last moment to sit out so as to not hurt his draft stock. Red flag. On the year that he just so happened to have 15.5 sacks, he just so happened to be playing on a talented D-Line with Juniors and Seniors all around him that he didn't have the years before. Red flag.
Does DaQuan Bowers have the talent to be a show stopping defensive end? You bet. But he's losing a lot of major ground by missing the combine. He's going to put on a planned exercise at the Clemson Pro-Day and the media/Clemson fans will be out in full force saying how he's the greatest thing since Julius Peppers and that the Panthers have to draft him or risk being morons. He's not someone I see falling down the draft boards, but he may be one of those players that came out of the draft too early and he doesn't live up to the expectations that hype has created for him. At least right away.
As a Panthers fan, I would not touch him. Let another team take a chance on this guy, we have bigger needs immediately in QB and DT and more surefooted guys to take.
Rev's hype meter: 30% full.
McAndre McDaniels - SS - 6 feet 217 pounds - Projected 2nd rounder
Ceiling Grade: 96, NFL Ready grade: 90
McAndre McDaniels is a different player altogether who stands in stark contrast to the one year wonder that is DaQuan Bowers. I think what I like most about McDaniels as a safety is how he keeps his eyes on the QB. He'll pick his receiver he's supposed to guard and put himself in a position to jump his route, but he always keeps his eyes downfield on the QB and he naturally shifts his body wherever the QB is looking. He's the kind of safety that is always biting at the bit waiting for the QB to release the ball and make an interception, and he loves making the big hit!
McDaniels finished with a team high 74 tackles this season with 4 interceptions, and that wasn't even his best season. In 2009 he had a phenomenal junior season. 8 interceptions, 1 returned for a touchdown, 2 sacks and a forced fumble. He's coming into the draft projected as a late 1st rounder/early second round, and he deserves every bit of it. Honors roll student and a team captain. 1st team ACC. This kid is going to be something in the NFL.
He's one of those players that the Panthers won't be able to pick unless we trade away our first rounder. But whichever team that McDaniels lands on will find it a tough task to not start him in Game 1.
Rev's hype meter: 80% full
Jamie Harper - RB - 5,11 233 pounds - Projected 3-4th rounder
Ceiling Grade: 65, NFL Ready Grade: 20
Whoever picks this kid will receive the biggest bust in the draft. This I promise you. Absolutely nothing he showed last year in his first significant playing time proved that he was ready for the NFL. Nothing. The kid doesn't know how to play the position. He shies away from contact and tries to out-juke guys. He runs upright and he doesn't lower his shoulders. I'm not going to mince words with you guys. He stinks.
The greatest frustration in the world as a Clemson fan was when our coach took DeAndre Ellington out of the lineup after he had a big play and threw in Harper who immediately got tackled behind the line of scrimmage and took our offense out of rhythm. Watching him perform on the field was a disaster. A paltry 3.9 yards a carry in college and yet he's on draft boards as going in the 3rd round. What are you thinking?
I'm willing to give a guy a pass for a bad year, but unless he receives coaching from the mouth of God himself and he makes incredible improvement the likes of which I have never seen before, he will be out of the NFL in 4 years. I promise you. He did not show that he could be successful in the NFL and he comes out as a junior on top of that. Ridiculous. I honestly don't know what Mel Kiper and the other guys are thinking on this one. A 3rd rounder, now that's a joke.
Rev's hype meter: 5% of a rainbow crapped out by a unicorn.
Jarvis Jenkins - DT - 6,4 310 pounds - Projected 3rd rounder
Ceiling Grade: 85 NFL Ready Grade: 80
This is my leading favorite Tiger to be selected by the Carolina Panthers. If the Panthers go QB in the first round as more and more analysts expect them too, there is a high probability they go DT in the 3rd round. And if they manage to snatch good ol JJ up, they will never look back on this day and doubt whether they made the right choice.
Jarvis Jenkin's greatest strength is his ability to stuff the run. He gets a good push off the line, and him and his fellow DT Brandon Thompson phenomenal play in stopping the running back contributed greatly in giving the opposing QB a rough 3rd down situation and letting our DE's go to the trough. 51 tackles and 9 for a loss, a sack, and 16 QB pressures round out his stats and he made the 1st team in the ACC Team.
As a ceiling, he's got the talent to be a good starter. He won't ever be elite, but he's by far an upgrade over Nick Hayden. If we select him in the 3rd round of the NFL draft, half of our run stopping woes are solved.
Rev's hype meter: 85% full.
Marcus Gilchrist - CB - 5,10 195 pounds - Projected 4th/5th rounder
Ceiling grade: 70 NFL Ready grade: 65
To be honest, I don't get much of a read on Marcus. He hasn't made many elite plays in college in his natural position as a cornerback. He gets into the draft though due to his physical versatility in multiple positions and his potential as a punt/kickoff returner. He returned 22 kickoffs for 557 yards and 233 yards on 23 punt returns. He will probably land somewhere as a hybrid nickel corner/kickoff or punt returner. He's got to impress if he's going to crack a lineup in this league.
Rev's hype meter: 35% full
Chris Hairston - OG - 6,6 326 pounds - Projected 5th/6th rounder
Ceiling Grade: 81 NFL Ready grade: 70
If there is anything I can use to describe Chris Hairston, it's that he's a hard worker. This is good, because he's got a lot of work to do if he's going to make it in the NFL. Clemson is not a team known to put out good offensive linemen in the NFL, which hurts his draft stock right out of the starting gates. He's also an injury risk, he's had problems with his knees all through his career at Clemson. However, you can't deny the size that this guy has. Look a few years down the line, and he has the talent to be a 16 game starter if he can stay healthy. Until then, he's going to be a capable backup if he's only filling in a few games or so.
Rev's hype meter: 55% full
Bryon Maxwell - CB - 6 feet 202 pounds - Projected 6th/7th rounder
Ceiling grade: 75, NFL Ready: 55
He's going to have to fight hard for a roster spot after his first year with the team and with time his ceiling may be a nickel/4th string corner. However, it can be argued that he is athletically more talented than his teammate Marcus Gilchrist. Perhaps a few years with an NFL team can fashion him into a 6th round gem for a team looking to take a chance on someone. In those few years though, he can just as easily be out of the NFL or stashed in the back of a depth chart by a coach that didn't pick him.
Rev's hype meter: 35% full
There you have it folks. If someone will step up and do the Gamecocks. My leading candidate for Panthers to take in the 2011 draft is Jarvis Jenkins in the 3rd round. He has a future in this league and he fits in the Panthers 4-3 scheme. Don't doubt me on this! Remember Jacoby Ford. Stay away from Bowers and grab his teammate in the top of the 3rd round!