The Clemson Tigers are two victories away from defending their national championship.
Meanwhile, NFL.com envisions a bright professional future one day when these three Clemson defensive linemen finish their collegiate careers.
NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter created a list of future NFL stars, with Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell (No. 12), Christian Wilkins (No. 13) and Dexter Lawrence (No. 19) in the top 20.
Reuter provided analysis for each Clemson player.
Ferrell, a sophomore defensive end, has amassed 62 tackles (17 tackles for loss) along with 8.5 sacks, a pass breakup, and two forced fumbles.
Even in a front four loaded with NFL talent, Ferrell’s quickness and power have stood out over the past year. He made his name in the ACC Championship Game and Fiesta Bowl last season, credited with a sack in each contest. Ferrell took another step this year, leading the Tigers with 8.5 sacks by rushing the quarterback like his hair is on fire. He’s shown agility as a stand-up defender, as well, giving him scheme versatility.
Wilkins, a junior defensive tackle, has totaled 52 tackles (nine tackles for loss) to go with five sacks, and four pass breakups.
This 300-pounder plays inside and outside, puzzling whichever lineman he’s facing with plus power and agility. Stand him up, put him on the nose — it doesn’t matter, he’ll affect the play. Wilkins’ production is relatively paltry compared to some of his teammates, but NFL general managers appreciate his ability to make an impact on three downs. I can’t wait to see his NFL Scouting Combine workout.
Lawrence, a sophomore defensive tackle, has recorded 32 tackles (2.5 tackles for loss) as well as two sacks and a forced fumble.
Lawrence is pure power up front. He’s tall and long, making him difficult for even a strong offensive lineman to move off his spot. Lawrence is agile enough to move with a double team or chase after escaping quarterbacks, though he’s not quite quick enough to catch more athletic passers. He could be a Michael Brockers-type defender in the NFL.
The trio will look to help Clemson get past Alabama on Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl, which serves as a College Football Playoff semifinal.
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