If you didn’t know by now, you will be very familiar with the fact there’s a record 98 underclassmen eligible for the NFL draft starting Thursday in NYC.
Back in January, Clemson star defensive end Vic Beasley decided not to join teammates Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant and Bashaud Breeland in that fray this week. Instead, the Adairsville, Georgia product spent his fourth spring on the Clemson practice fields working towards being one of the best for the 2015 draft.
Beasley was given a second round grade by the NFL draft advisory board, but was a projected first-rounder by several outlets after compiling 21 sacks in 26 games over the last two seasons – all coming against FBS competition.
A Ted Hendricks Award finalist (top DE), the first-team All-American ranked third nationally in sacks and fourth in tackles for loss in a breakout junior campaign.
Beasley delayed his draft decision to the deadline in what was a learning process for him.
“I learned that you have to be really careful with the people you surround yourself with and the folks you talk with,” he said. “Because everybody is not for you. You have to understand that at the end of the day you have to do what’s best for you.”
“I felt like my grade didn’t affect my decision. I felt like if I went to the Combine I could have improved my skills and boosted up into the first round.”
Beasley says his emphasis this offseason is as much about the d-line unit as a whole as personal improvement.
“Honestly I just want to improve in the run game,” he said, “but at the same time, I want to improve the focus of my teammates and their commitment level because that’s a big thing to us being successful this year.
“It’s going to take our d-line being the leader of our team. Our d-line is our strength of the team. Me and the rest of the guys – us being committed this summer is only going to affect the linebackers and most importantly our secondary, which people see as the weakness on our team.”
Wreaking havoc at the other end spot, Beasley came away impressed with fellow senior Tavaris Barnes, who wrapped up a strong spring with five sacks in the final scrimmage.
“You could just see it in his effort to get to the quarterback (in the spring game),” said Beasley. “Usually Tavaris will get tired here or there after a couple reps, but he’s put in the work last offseason and going into the spring. You can see it paying off for him.
“I would say I had a decent spring. I was able to help players around me to become better and helped myself become better. At the end of the day, I’m just proud of my teammates seeing them come along and become better players just like me.”