Thomas’ pick saves near-shutout

Special to The StateMay 10, 2014 

Clemson wide receiver Martavis Bryant


— After delivering Sammy Watkins to the Buffalo Bills with the No. 4 pick Thursday in the NFL draft, Clemson waited until the final selection of the third round Friday before the San Francisco 49ers chose injured offensive lineman Brandon Thomas with the 100th pick.

Thomas, from Dorman High in Spartanburg, had been projected as a potential second-round pick but tore an ACL during a workout with the New Orleans Saints on April 1.

Thomas is one of 22 offensive linemen selected thus far in the draft. A guard and tackle at Clemson, his size (6-foot-3, 305 pounds) and athleticism are more suited to guard in an NFL that continues to gravitate to speed and quickness.

Otherwise, the second and third rounds passed without another Clemson player receiving a call. Among the former Clemson players still on the board for today’s final four rounds are record-setting quarterback Tajh Boyd, wide receiver Martavis Bryant and cornerback Bashaud Breeland.

Both Bryant and Breeland relinquished their final seasons of eligibility and were projected for Friday’s rounds. A total of 13 receivers and nine corners were picked through the first three rounds.

Boyd said in a recent interview he hoped to be selected in the second round, and his representatives were confident this week he wouldn’t last beyond the fourth. With the draft’s emphasis on linemen, receivers and defensive skill position, five quarterbacks taken through the first two rounds. Derek Carr and Jimmy Garopollo went in round two; none were taken in the third.

Among those rated ahead of Boyd were A.J. McCarron of Alabama, Tom Savage of Pitt, Zach Mettenberger of LSU and Aaron Murray of Georgia.

Bryant, a junior from Calhoun Falls, caught 42 passes for 846 yards and seven touchdowns. He averaged 19.7 yards per catch with 17 catches of 20 yards or more – and with career 61 catches for 1,372 yards, his 22.5 yards per catch average is the best in Clemson history,

His best game was the Thursday night win against Georgia Tech in which he had five catches for 176 yards. In his final game, Bryant caught three passes for 28 yards and two touchdowns in the Orange Bowl win over sixth-ranked Ohio State.

Second-team all-conference, Breeland helped Clemson defense rank 16th in the nation in fewest passing yards allowed. A native of Allendale and former option quarterback at Allendale-Fairfax, he finished this season with four interceptions and 13 pass deflections to lead the team in both categories.

Also hoping to be drafted was kicker Chandler Catanzaro.

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