Judging Clemson's draft prospects

CLEMSON - Scout.com NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber takes a look at three Clemson players from the offensive side of the ball who could be selected in this April's NFL Draft.

The Tigers' best wide receiver finished his Clemson career on with a solid senior season.

Jacoby Ford led the team in all major receiving categories this season with 56 receptions for 779 yards and six touchdowns. He also rushed for two touchdowns and returned a punt for six.

"Ford is an explosive offensive weapon, who can be used in many areas on the football field. He lacks ideal size for a wide receiver, but his quickness and ability to get downfield gives him an edge over most defenders," Scout.com NFL Draft Analyst Chris Steuber said.

He projects Ford to be drafted somewhere in the third or fourth round.

"Ford has good hands and usually catches the ball cleanly, but he was generally used as a big play threat and rarely had to run precise routes in college," Steuber said. "He's good in space, has great vision and can make defenders miss, but isn't fluid moving laterally. He's a finesse player and doesn't offer much as a blocker downfield."

Along with Ricky Sapp, Ford has been selected to play in this weekend's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

Since 1950, the Senior Bowl has brought college football's best seniors together for an exhibition game. The first game was played in Jacksonville, Fla., but was moved to Mobile, where it's been played every since.

Teams representing the North and South are coached by staffs from two NFL teams with NFL personnel attending practices throughout the week.

Also in contention to be drafted in April is guard Thomas Austin.

Steuber likes the versatility Austin could bring to an NFL team, with the ability to play any of the three interior line positions.

"Although he's not the best athlete, Austin has the ability to get to the second level and make an impact," Steuber said. "He's strong at the point of attack and initiates contact with the opposition. He's aware of his surroundings and works well with his teammates."

Though he was primarily a guard at Clemson, Austin projects to be a "solid center prospect at the next level" and a sixth-round selection.

He played in the 85th East-West Shrine Game with Clemson teammates Chris Chancellor and Kavell Conner last weekend at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

Michael Palmer had one of the best seasons by a Clemson tight end in school history with 43 receptions for 507 yards and four touchdowns. However, it wasn't enough for Steuber to project as a draft pick.

"He is a consistent pass catching tight end who's still improving as a blocker. He's a solid route runner, has great hands and is able to make the reception away from his frame. He reads the defense well, finds the open areas and makes tough catches in traffic," he said.

Of course, Clemson's likely first-round candidate this year is C.J. Spiller, who is currently ranked as the No. 1 running back available in this year's draft by Scout.com.

Earlier this month, Steuber weighed in on C.J. Spiller's NFL draft stock.

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