Vic Beasley hopes his return to college will pay off come late April.
His biggest competition for a top-10 to 15 spot may come against defenders, says ESPN’s Todd McShay.
“I think it’s a good defensive draft,” McShay said in a media teleconference. “Going back to look at my mock draft, somebody said there were a lot of defensive linemen early outside of quarterbacks…There’s just not a lot of offensive line talent early in this draft. That will wind up pushing some of those defensive players up.
“When you talk defensive front-seven, there’s a really good group, especially on the perimeter.”
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An organization in transition, the Atlanta Falcons’ selection at No. 8 is an intriguing landing spot for Beasley, a Georgia native. The Falcons recently made a shift in power both at head coach and a reduced role for GM Thomas Dimitroff.
McShay isn’t sure Beasley would quite fit Atlanta’s need for a pass rusher – more of a linebacker body at the next level, but Beasley’s numbers are hard to argue with.
“Beasley is much smaller, 6-2 220ish. Maybe could get in the 230-pound range,” McShay said. “To me, he’s more of an outside-linebacker fit, but he can provide pass rush. He’s been insanely productive the last couple of years.
“There are defensive linemen there. When you’re picking that early and you’ve got a quarterback in Matt Ryan, you got to get an impact player at offensive tackle or a pass rusher. If it works out that way, I think at pass rusher you’ve got a much better shot than offensive tackle. I don’t know that there is an elite tackle in that range.”
Beasley’s also been projected as late as pick 24 and Arizona, where three former Tigers already reside (WR Jaron Brown, RB Andre Ellington, K Chandler Catanzaro). Another name McShay mentioned as a Cardinals target past the first round is Grady Jarrett.
Jarrett garnered attention with another solid season on Clemson’s interior line. One midseason report by DraftInsider had him “rising up draft boards”:
“Slightly undersized at 6 1/2 feet and 280-pounds, his athleticism and movement skills have scouts believing Jarrett will be the perfect three-technique tackle on Sundays.”
ACC (ALL-CLEMSON COMBINE?)
Defensive ends Tavaris Barnes and Corey Crawford both have announced their 2015 NFL Combine invites. Beasley and Jarrett are sure bets, while Stephone Anthony should also be represented. The official list won’t be released until early February, but could include even more Tigers.
Over 300 players from across the country were selected for the five-day event last year, which starts on Feb. 20 in Indianapolis.
All five Clemson reps last year were drafted: Tajh Boyd (6th round), Bashaud Breeland (4th), Martavis Bryant (4th), Brandon Thomas (3rd) and Sammy Watkins (1st).