Clemson enjoys productive NFL draft weekend

Dwayne Allen, a tight end from Clemson, is expected to be an early pick in the NFL draft.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Dwayne Allen, a tight end from Clemson, is expected to be an early pick in the NFL draft.

— Clemson didn’t have a first-round selection for the second consecutive year, but the Tigers enjoyed a very successful NFL draft by the numbers.

Clemson had four players selected – defensive end Andre Branch (38th overall by Jacksonville), tight end Dwayne Allen (64th overall by Indianapolis), defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (93rd overall by Cincinnati) and cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (115th overall by Tennessee).

This marked the fourth consecutive year Clemson has had at least four players picked in the NFL draft, the first time that has happened since 1982-85 and just the second time in history. The Tigers have had 19 players drafted in that span, the most in a four-year period since 1990-93, when 20 players were selected. The school record is 31, from 1982-85; however, the draft was 12 rounds then, and has since been cut to seven.

Only Alabama had more picks than Clemson among the first 115 players taken in the draft. The Crimson Tide had five, followed by Clemson, Stanford, LSU, Illinois, Oklahoma and Miami (FL) with four apiece.

Since Dabo Swinney became Clemson’s head coach the Tigers have had 19 players drafted, tying Miami for the most players drafted from an ACC school over the last four years. North Carolina is third with 18 and Virginia Tech is fourth with 12.

Clemson is the only ACC school to have at least four players drafted each of the last four years, with four drafted in the 2009 draft, five in 2010, six in 2011 and four this year.

Clemson had three top 100 picks this year, the second straight year Clemson has had three top 100 picks, but just the second time since 1993. Being a top 100 selection is a good sign for those players. 53 of the last 56 Clemson players taken within the first 100 picks of the draft have gone on to play in the NFL. One of the players who has not, defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins, suffered a torn ACL in the 2011 preseason and should see action this season.

Two of Clemson’s four draft picks were considered two-star players coming out of high school by various recruiting services. Andre Branch and Coty Sensabaugh, taken 115th, were both two-star players, while Brandon Thompson and Dwayne Allen were four-star players.

Branch’s number-38 selection is the best by a former two-star player from Clemson. Branch and Sensabaugh are the Tigers’ third and fourth two-star players out of high school to get drafted in the last 10 years. The others are Barry Richardson and Kavell Conner. Richardson has been a starter in Kansas City and Conner led Indianapolis in tackles last year.

Of the last 27 Clemson players to get drafted three were five-stars, 12 were four-stars, eight were three-stars and four were two-stars.

Clemson had nine players ranked among the top 100 in the nation according to ESPN.com in 2008. Seven of the nine have completed their careers and Branch (a member of the 2007 recruiting class) has been taken higher in the draft than all seven who have finished so far.

Branch was the 38th pick of the 2012 draft, higher than former teammates Da’Quan Bowers (51st pick), Dwayne Allen (64th), Brandon Thompson (93rd), and Jamie Harper (130th). Others ranked in the top 100 of that 2008 recruiting class were Kyle Parker and Spencer Adams who have gone on to other sports. (Parker was a first round pick of MLB’s Colorado Rockies and Adams is an All-American on Clemson’s current track team). Teammate Antoine McClain has signed a free agent contract. Andre Ellington and Xavier Brewer are still in school.

Clemson was one of four programs to produce two two-star players who were drafted within the first 115 players this year. Boise State (with two first-rounders), Utah State and Louisiana Lafayette were the other schools with two two-star players who were drafted within the first 115 selections of this year’s draft.

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