This is a week of anticipation for hundreds of NFL prospects and Clemson will have as much a stake in the action as any school.
Dabo Swinney knows he will have his third first-round pick in his span as the Tigers’ head coach: Sammy Watkins appearing to be a lock for a top-five selection. The universal high-praise for the south Florida product certainly isn’t a surprise
“You can just turn the film on,” said Swinney on ESPN radio this week. “The guy showed up here and he was the best player on the field, literally. An incredibly blue-collar, humble guy with a great skillset for his position and a tremendous work ethic to go with it. There’s only been three players in the history of college football that have made first-team All-American as a true freshman – Herschel Walker, Adrian Peterson and Sammy Watkins.
“The guy is just the total package.”
Many scouts have hailed Watkins’ edge and competitiveness, and Swinney adds he’s a coach’s dream.
“He just loves to play,” Swinney said. “You have no issues with him as a person. He’s a very low-key guy. Fun to coach. You can coach him hard – it doesn’t matter. He just responds. He’s always there.”
Tajh Boyd highlights some intriguing Tiger prospects set to go on days two and three in NYC. NFL scouts and analysts have had more time than any recent offseason to analyze, reanalyze and overanalyze this year’s festivities – Boyd, one, who’s certainly in the crosshairs this weekend.
A “Dandy Dozen” signee from the Clemson coach’s first class, Swinney admits Boyd’s still “developing,” but says his college accomplishments say enough.
“Tajh Boyd is the winningest quarterback in the history of this school,” said Swinney. “He beat LSU without Sammy Watkins. He’s beaten Florida State. He’s beaten Auburn twice, one of them without Sammy Watkins. He’s beaten Georgia. Beat Virginia Tech three times – one of them in the championship game.
“Tajh Boyd is a great winner. Certainly still a developing player and there are certain parts of his game where he’s got to continue to improve and evolve. He’s a great winner.”
With one first round receiver (DeAndre Hopkins) and another soon to be, Boyd had plenty to work with in his time at Clemson, but Swinney says he was as big a part of developing players in the offense as any.
“Sammy Watkins became Sammy Watkins because of all of those skillset things he has,” he said, “but Tajh Boyd had a huge part in that. Because he delivered the ball the way he needed it delivered. He gave him the opportunities. Not just any quarterback can make the plays that Tajh Boyd has made. He’s a great player in his own right.
“Some people knock him because he hasn’t won some big games – lost to South Carolina and lost to Florida State. I just laugh at that. He won a ton of huge games. Finished it off with a big win in the Orange Bowl against Ohio State.”