Three Gamecocks are generating first-round NFL Draft buzz for 2012, and only one is a senior.
South Carolina junior wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and junior cornerback Stephon Gilmore are cracking into most of the early 2012 NFL mock drafts. Joining them on some lists is senior defensive end Devin Taylor.
The Gamecocks had two players taken in the 2011 draft: Chris Culliver (third round, 49ers) and Cliff Matthews (seventh round, Falcons).
For 2012, Mel Kiper's famous Big Board has Jeffery listed as the No. 4 prospect. Gilmore is No. 19.
Below is a roundup of where USC players are projected in other mock drafts, as well as commentary from each expert. The drafts take into account draft-eligible players.
ESPN's Todd McShay - Mock draft
- Jeffery No. 7 to Seahawks: I'll be interested to see how Jeffery runs and to study more tape on his route-running, but he passes the eyeball test with flying colors and has delivered clutch performances in big games during his short career.
- Gilmore No. 16 to Lions: Gilmore is a smooth, fluid athlete with good size and a chance to become one of the elite cover corners in the nation next season with better technique and recognition skills.
SI.com's Andrew Perloff - Mock draft
- Gilmore No. 12 to Lions: Gilmore still has something to prove, but could develop into a shutdown guy.
- Jeffery No. 21 to Ravens: Jeffery was very productive as a sophomore, but is a little too slow to be a top-10 pick. Still, the Ravens have been trying to find a young star at this position for some time.
- Taylor No. 27 to Chargers: The Chargers began to address their defense in this year's draft, but they would love to add a potentially explosive pass rusher like Taylor.
Peter Schrager, Fox Sports - Mock draft
- Jeffery No. 3 to Panthers: They get Cam Newton his go-to guy for the future in Jeffery, the 6-4, 230 pound do-everything receiver out of South Carolina. As a sophomore in 2010, Jeffery caught 88 balls for 1,517 yards in Steve Spurrier’s offense. Expect huge numbers and All-America honors in 2011.
- Gilmore No. 20 to Lions: With rookies Nick Fairley, Titus Young and Mikel LeShoure all playing major roles in ’11, the Lions focus on defensive back in 2012, scooping up Gilmore, the physical 6-2, 195-pound cover corner out of South Carolina. As a freshman, Gilmore started every game in 2009, and he got better in 2010. Look for an All-America campaign in 2011.
NFL.com's Gil Brandt - Top prospects
- Jeffery at No. 6: A 2010 first-team All-SEC selection, Jeffery possesses the size and speed needed at the position in the NFL. Last season, Jeffery had 88 receptions for 1,517 yards.
- Gilmore at No. 28: A first-team All-SEC selection in 2010, Gilmore led the team in tackles and had three interceptions. Gilmore has been a starter since he was a true freshman. He has the ability to play QB in a Wildcat formation.
- Taylor at No. 54: No comment given