CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Tigers weigh pro options

Special to the StateDecember 14, 2013 

— Common sense as well as the senses of hearing and seeing may determine whether several members of the Clemson football team enter the 2014 NFL draft.

Vic Beasley, Martavis Bryant and Sammy Watkins are among players with remaining eligibility who submitted requests for evaluation by the NFL draft Advisory Board.

Each is at a different stage in his career, but the seduction of a potential NFL career may be too seductive. After practice Saturday, they seemed inclined to make the Orange Bowl their final game in Clemson uniforms.

“I leaning toward coming out,” said Beasley, a high school running back who tried tight end and linebacker at Clemson before agreeing last season to become a defensive end. “It’s definitely a tough decision right now.

“We’re just waiting to see what our grade is,” he said. “I’ll take first round.”

Among those paid to speculate, he and Watkins are virtual locks in the first round. Beasley, with 12 sacks among his 19 tackles for loss, was the No. 22 overall on CBS Sports’ NFLDraftScout.com board. Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN listed him No. 14.

While Beasley’s ascension has been meteoric, there was little doubt this would be Watkins’ final season, especially after cementing his legacy at Clemson. Watkins, too, said he was “leaning” toward the draft. Kiper and the others consider him the top receiver and potentially one of the first six players drafted.

Bryant, on the other hand, seemed too eager, saying he would enter the draft if the advisory report projected him no lower than the third round. Among receivers, he’s on the fringe according to NFLDraftScout.com. The others have yet to acknowledge him.

Part of Dabo Swinney’s work over the next several weeks will be counseling them, much as he did a year ago with DeAndre Hopkins.

Among others, linebacker Stephone Anthony reportedly submitted paperwork for evaluation, but defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said last week he would return for his final season.

“If you’re not a first-rounder it’s not a good long-term decision, it’s just not,” Swinney said. “I think you want to maximize your one opportunity.

“I wouldn’t go at a discount,” he said. “I think that we’ve got a few guys that if they came out now, they’re not going to get what I think they’re worth.”

Swinney said he did not anticipate any distraction among players looking to the future, including the seniors. Quarterback Tajh Boyd chose to return after considering the 2013 draft. Projections place him in the second to fourth rounds this time, probably not any higher than a year ago.

“There’s a time and a place for all that stuff,” Swinney said. “The focus is to win this game.”

Notes

Swinney said he swapped texts last week with Texas coach Mack Brown, with whom he’s become friends, and that the Longhorns’ coach was holding up well under the media siege. ... A recurring knee injury led junior offensive tackle Gifford Timothy to retire from football. Timothy, a starter in 17 of the 28 games he play, notified Swinney on Friday. “He just doesn’t feel he can do it anymore. His knee is just a mess,” Swinney said. “He’s in pain all the time and doesn’t think he can do it anymore.” Timothy will serve as a student coach. ... Swinney plans five more practices this week before breaking for Christmas. The team returns to Clemson for practices Dec. 27-29 before traveling to Miami.

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