Clemson's 2013 draft candidates

Now that we're a full week from the start of the 2012 NFL Draft, it's time we look ahead to the 2013 draft and five Clemson players that could make noise around this time next year.

Four of the five 2013 candidates on our list of five players to watch are seniors. The other is a junior. Later this week, we'll take a look at Clemson's 2014 NFL Draft candidates.

RB Andre Ellington, RS Sr.
At the conclusion of Ellington's 2011 campaign, he received a third round grade after submitting paperwork to the NFL's draft advisory board.

Ellington has rushed 409 times for 2,355 yards and 25 touchdowns during his Clemson career. He's also caught 45 passes for 273 yards and a score and returned 18 kickoffs for 464 yards and a score.

Despite his production, there are a couple of questions surrounding Ellington's draft stock. First among those is durability. Among those nicks is a foot and ankle injury. He'll also need to improve his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

If Ellington could stay healthy and increase his production as a pass catcher, he could parlay that third round potential into the second round.

DE Malliciah Goodman, Sr.

Malliciah Goodman enters his second season as a starter at defensive end.(Roy Philpott)
Andre Branch, DaQuan Bowers, Ricky Sapp, Phillip Merling and Gaines Adams -- Goodman is up next in the line of Clemson defensive ends drafted into the NFL.

Goodman has played in 41 games [15 starts] and recorded 122 tackles at Clemson. Despite lining up opposite of Branch, Bowers and Sapp during his career, Goodman has just five career sacks and 27 quarterback pressures.

That lack of production in the pass rush could wind up hurting Goodman's draft position. With a highly productive final season like Branch and Bowers had, Goodman could increase his stock to as high as the second round, the same round Branch and Bowers were selected.

At 6-foot-4, 280 pounds, Goodman has the measurables to be a early to mid-round pick. But he'll have to increase his production to ensure that he goes in the first three rounds.

C Dalton Freeman, RS Sr.
No Clemson offensive lineman has been selected in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft since Joe Bostic was selected 64th overall by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1979. Freeman could be the guy to snap the streak.

A finalist for last year's Rimington Award, Freeman was also named first-team All-ACC. He's also on the preseason watch list for the 2012 Rimington Award.

Freeman has 143 knockdown blocks in 36 career starts at center for the Tigers, during which he's logged 2,402 snaps.

It's rare for centers to come off the board in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. Freeman won't be drafted on the first day, but it's safe to think he could be guy to snap Clemson's streak of no offensive linemen drafted as early as the third round.

DeAndre Hopkins was second among Clemson receivers last year with 72 catches.(Roy Philpott)
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Jr.
Back when Hopkins was a four-star prospect coming out of Daniel High School, folks wondered if he had the breakaway speed to be a successful wide receiver at the college level.

Well, 1,615 yards, 124 catches, nine touchdowns and two years later, speed hasn't been an issue for Hopkins. He is only the second player in ACC history with at least 50 catches in each of his first two seasons.

Another 50-plus catch season could push Hopkins right on into the NFL. With more opponents primed and ready to pay very close attention to Sammy Watkins, Hopkins could have a monster 2012.

Hopkins may not be on many 2013 NFL Draft radars right now, but he will be in seven months. Even then, he'll still have another year of eligibility.

SS Jonathan Meeks Sr.
We're still scratching our heads and wondering why in the world Meeks didn't redshirt during his first season at Clemson. In 2009, he played just 54 snaps as a reserve safety on the Tigers' defense.

During his career, Meeks has logged 1,054 snaps in 37 games, 11 of which he's started. During that span, he's been in on 95 tackles.

As a junior last season, Meeks led all Clemson defenders with three interceptions.

Like Hopkins, Meeks could make his way onto draft radars with a solid 2012 campaign. Meeks had an up and down junior year, but he could help himself with a more steady senior season.

Meeks will test well when the pre-draft work outs get underway, so that also could help his stock.

Also considered: FS Rashard Hall, RS Sr., QB Tajh Boyd RS Jr., TE Brandon Ford RS Sr., WR Jaron Brown RS Sr. Top Stories