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Six Clemson Tigers Headed to the Combine

Six Clemson Tigers Headed to the Combine

The NFL Draft Combine starts Monday, February 26th in Indianapolis with team interviews. The combine will take place for a week with the last day being the following Monday, March 4th. Throughout the week, draft prospects who were invited will be examined while going through drills in front of NFL scouts and coaches in hopes of improving their draft stock. Since the end of the season, 16 players from Clemson’s 2023 team have declared for the draft. Of those 16, six have received combine invites. With only one projected first-rounder in this group, these invitees will have a huge opportunity to improve their stock over the next seven days.

Top Prospects

The only Tiger projected to go in the first round is cornerback Nate Wiggins. The highest-ranked prospect from Clemson in the class is the third-ranked corner in the draft. This could very easily change with a strong performance in the combine though. There are some mock drafts that actually already have him as the second corner taken. Putting up a few impressive numbers in the combine could solidify that or even move him to the top corner of the class. If he shows up to the combine five pounds heavier and gives good performances in the 40-yard dash and bench press specifically, he could make a jump to the top.

The Tiger’s top defensive player from last season, Jeremiah Trotter Jr, will be at the combine as well. Going in, Trotter is projected by most as a late-mid second-round pick. He is a top-five linebacker in the class but there are mixed opinions about him. While most scouts like Trotter’s athleticism and high motor, they feel he lacks the frame, strength, and explosiveness for the position. Testing well in the bench press, vertical, and broad jump is going to be important to show that strength and explosiveness.

Something to Prove

The other four Tigers invited to the combine will have a bit more to prove in Lucas Oil Stadium this week to improve their stocks. One player who really must show out is Xavier Thomas. He already began impressing scouts at the Shrine Bowl practices recently. Right now, Thomas is projected to be an undrafted free agent. Continuing to turn the heads of scouts and coaches attending the combine is going to be critical for Thomas to get his name called in the seven-round draft. What will be most important for him is showing consistently good technique in the position-specific drills.

Two other starting 2023 Clemson defensive linemen will also be at the combine with Thomas. One will be defensive tackle Tyler Davis. Many believed Davis was going to enter the draft last season, but he opted to stay in Death Valley one more year. Now he goes in as the sixth-best defensive tackle in the 2024 draft class. Currently projected to go in the third round, showing his natural athleticism as a big man could help his stock a bit. He will also, like Thomas, have to show good technique through the position-specific drills.

Davis’ right-hand man and defensive tackle mate Ruke Orhorhoro will also be in Indianapolis. Orhorhoro’s stock has risen drastically through the 2023 season. Entering the combine he is now the third-ranked defensive tackle in the class. He is a projected late second-round pick who could improve his stock just by bringing a high level of intensity to everything he does through the week.

The last Tiger who will be at the 2024 NFL Combine is Will Shipley. As the eighth-ranked running back in the class, Shipley will have much to prove. He is projected to be picked in the fifth round. The key to improving that will be a great show of speed and explosiveness. The 40-yard dash, vertical, and broad jump should be the main focuses for Shipley this week. Putting up good numbers in these testing drills should start to open some scouts’ eyes.

Road to the Draft

To many people, the combine is the true start of draft season. In the past many prospects have improved their draft stock with great combine performances. These six Tigers will have a chance to do the same. After the combine, there will be pro days on school campuses where more prospects will be able to show their skills in front of scouts. There will also be opportunities for players to be invited to personal workouts for organizations leading up to the draft. Everything leads to the big weekend April 25th-27th in Detroit where the NFL Draft will take place.

 

Six Clemson Tigers Headed to the Combine
Photo courtesy: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

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