Three great NFL prospects along with a smattering of Tigers both current and former worked out at Clemson University yesterday. The results? No one significantly improved their draft stock and no one did much of anything to screw it up. But Brandon Thompson, a player that the Panthers have a good chance of picking in the second round, impressed quite well. He proved he could be a great prospect along the D-Line if he's chosen in the Draft.
DT Brandon Thompson (6-2, 316) may have done more than anyone else to impress scouts at Clemson's pro day, including clocking a 4.9 time in the 40 that prompted cheers from many on hand. "I think I helped myself," Thompson said.
Not that he needed much help; scouts have been high on Thompson since he emerged as a standout run-stopper up the middle two seasons ago and continued to enhance his stock last season, when he had 77 tackles and a team-high 18 quarterback pressures. At 6-2, he's considered "stumpy" and not as versatile as some other top-notch defensive linemen by some scouts, but most are impressed by his "elite burst" off the snap as well as his aggressiveness and consistency. ((CBS Sports))
The general consensus among Pro-Day goers is that Brandon Thompson had a good workout, but he wore out as the day went on. That's really the only red flag you can bring up with Brandon and honestly, who cares? As long as he's in shape by the regular season, that's all I really care about. You've got to love his pass rushing ability in our pass-happy conference.
DE Andre Branch (6-4, 259) is another potential first-round pick, currently ranked as the No. 4 defensive end by NFLDraftScout.com. He was inconsistent at times last season, showing a tendency to disappear from game to game. One week before 11 tackles, including six for loss and four sacks, in a win over Virginia Tech, he had just one tackle against Florida State. But Branch still wound up leading the ACC with 10.5 sacks and making 85 tackles. Scouts love his size, length and explosive burst as well as his versatility -- he could be effective in either a 4-3 or 3-4 set. He's coveted for his pass-rush ability. ((CBS Sports))
Andre Branch is one of those players that I personally believe that Da'Quan Bowers benefitted from playing with during his last year at Clemson. Without Branch, there is no way that Da'Quan would have been able to do the things he did and got drafted so high last year. He'll probably end up at a late 1st-rounder. Whether he'll be successful or not will be a bit more curious question that is hard to address until we see what position he'll be playing next year.
Dwayne Allen decided that he wasn't going to run the 40 during his Pro-Day and it may cost him when the Draft rolls around. He insists that he's not a track guy and he wants his play on the field to do the talking for him.
"I'm a ballplayer, flat out. I'm not a track guy," Allen said Thursday after Clemson's pro day. "My 40 time is what it is. If you watch me on film, I play way faster. That's all that matters." ((Aiken Standard))
It's a rather disappointing decision that overshadowed his performance at the combine. Considering his disappointing 4.89 time during the Combine, you would hope he could improve on that. Luckily for Dwayne he stands to benefit from a weak TE class in 2012. One of the men competing for the top TE in the draft, Orson Charles, got arrested for DUI just this morning. The class just isn't very good this year.
Chad Diehl is a good player for the Panthers to keep an eye on in the late rounds. As a fullback Chad, who was spurned from the NFL Combine, made his main focus to show NFL teams that he could run good passing routes and do more in the NFL than simply be a blocker.
"The main thing is showing I have the ability to catch the football and not just be a blocking back for somebody," Diehl said. "I had a couple of drops but I feel good about today's performance. Overall I was just trying to impress as much as I could with my route-running because it's something I'm not really used to doing in games so I've been working hard at it and hopefully I impressed some teams."
The 6-foot-2, 257-pounder, who was clocked at 4.9 during Thursday's 40-yard sprint, is regularly listed among the majority of prognosticators as one of the top two or three fullbacks available. That's the good news while the negative is that the fullback position has become a dying breed in the NFL where a variety of skills has become nearly a must. ((Eric Boynton, GoUpstate.com))
That last sentence is what hits home the most. But the Panthers FB position has been in flux ever since Brad Hoover left the team. With two of the best running backs in the NFL on our roster, maybe Chad can find a home here as a lead blocker. Who knows? But he's got a much better chance of success here than if we were to spend that pick on a random 6th round wideout or corner.
Brandon Thompson is probably my favorite player out of this bunch. He's got the best chance to be drafted by the Panthers since we desperately need better guys in our defensive line. Fua and McClain can't be counted on judging from their rookie years. I know they're rookies, but they're both standouts from small schools and they didn't impress me at all. I would much rather have an ACC Champion playing amidst the Panthers instead.