Swinney likes Rod McDowell's chances of following in footsteps of Spiller, Ellington

'When they take one of our guys, they know they're getting more than a good football player'

Football Awards - Senior Roderick McDowell

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football Awards - Senior Roderick McDowell

CJ Spiller is a mainstay in the Buffalo Bills' backfield.

The Arizona Cardinals plan to build their 2014 offense around Andre Ellington.

What are the chances for Rod McDowell - who followed Spiller and Ellington as a thousand-yard rusher in Clemson's backfield - following in the NFL footsteps of his Tiger predecessors?

If you ask Dabo Swinney, McDowell's chances are pretty good.

First of all, he said, McDowell is a good football player.

"Rod showed up around 170 pounds and is leaving about 200, and has just gotten better and better and better all throughout his career," Swinney said recently. "He's really just grown up and become a man.

"He's become a really good football player. He rushed for over a thousand yards and was a huge part of our season. I'm excited about his opportunity."

Swinney said another factor working in McDowell's favor is the proven and NFL-recognized culture of the Clemson program.

"Our guys have a rate of success at a high level, when they get drafted or when sign as free agents," Swinney said. "I think part of that is that when they take one of our guys, they know they're getting more than a good football player. They're getting a guy who knows about toughness, and about how to show up on time, and how to prepare. They know football, and they know how to handle success and adversity."

Spiller carved out his niche in the Buffalo Bills' backfield as a first-round draft selection. Ellington, meanwhile, was a sixth-round pick of the Cardinals last spring.

Swinney says there's the possibility that a team could take a late-round chance on McDowell this week. But if not, he expects the Sumter, S.C. native to "definitely" get an opportunity as a free agent.

A total of 50 undrafted free agents made opening-day NFL rosters as rookies last fall, and 50 original undrafted players were on rosters of last season's two Super Bowl teams, Seattle and Denver.

"Rod's going to get his shot," Swinney said. "I don't know that he'll be drafted. He possibly could, but most likely he'll get his chance as a free agent, and I think he has a more-than-good shot of making it.

"I'm excited about Rod. He's a guy who is really the epitome of what I want our program to be, in that he's a young guy who showed up and maximized his potential and developed into the best that he can be."

Follow Kerry Capps on Twitter @oandwkc

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