Scout's Take: Clemson

As Ohio State gets ready to take on an unfamiliar Clemson team in the Orange Bowl, we bring in the big guns to help preview the Tigers. We talked to an NFL scout who has watched a number of Clemson games this year to break down the team, including stars like Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Vic Beasley.

The basics on Clemson heading into Friday night's Orange Bowl are pretty well-known. The No. 12 Tigers boast one of the most prolific passing offenses in the country led by senior quarterback Tajh Boyd and junior wideout Sammy Watkins, while the defense seems susceptible to Ohio State's strong rush attack.

But to get you more information on the 10-2 Tigers, we decided to go deeper. As such, we talked to a NFL scout – who chooses not to be named – to discuss exactly what the Tigers bring to the table on Friday night in Miami.

Below are quotes from the scout on a variety of subjects when it comes to the Tigers.

"They obviously got Sammy Watkins. He'll be the top receiver or the second receiver (taken in the draft). It all depends on what they prefer. If Marquise Lee comes out, it might be 1A, 1B, but if not, he'll be the top guy. Good route runner. His speed after the catch is what makes him the best. They throw a lot of screens to him. A lot of those, Tajh Boyd turns, throws down the line of scrimmage and they lead him. He will hurt you in that game. And put it this way, they're in deep trouble if (Bradley) Roby doesn't play because they have another guy, Martavis Bryant, No. 1, on the other side and he's good. He's going to be their next stud wide receiver, but he's more – (teams) double a lot in the film on Watkins and bring the safety over, so (Bryant) is more one-on-one so that's why he gets a lot of passes, but he's good. He's not as much of a deep threat or a big-play guy as Watkins, but he's going to make the catches.

"(Watkins') burst is very good. Also he's very controlled, like he runs good routes. He's not the best route runner, but he runs good routes, and he's very crisp into the run after the catch. He can turn it and go, where some guys have to catch it, stop and go. I'll tell you this, Clemson's two wide receivers, Watkins and Bryant, are head and shoulders above any of the Ohio State guys, wide receiver-wise."

"Boyd is good but he's a mixed bag. He kind of reminds me in a weird way, not as good, but a Donovan McNabb style guy. He's going to run the ball. They run a lot of power stuff like where they'll pull the guard and he'll just follow him and run power, kind of like a ‘Wildcat' thing. If you watch them against Georgia, he played surprisingly well. FSU, they brought the pressure and he was getting nervous. He rushes it, throws off his back foot and his accuracy struggles tremendously when he gets pressed, which happens to a lot of quarterbacks, but you can tell with Tajh, he'll start making errant throws. He's a guy, out of the senior quarterbacks, I think if you can develop, he'd be one of the better seniors. He's not going to come in and play right away if you draft him – he'll be a No. 2 – but hell, Spergon Wynn started in this league sometimes so he'll get a chance.

"He's a good player. He can beat you with his feet as well, but unlike Braxton, he'll try to throw it first. That's the way you get him – Florida State did that. He got a little rattled, you could tell. He was just throwing off his back foot and making errant throws where you're like, ‘What the hell are you doing?' You watch him against Georgia and he played pretty calm and could run the ball. If he has time, Ohio State is going to be in trouble."

"The left tackle, No. 63 (senior Brandon Thomas), he was getting some pub, but when I watched him and we watched him, I didn't like him that much. He's OK athletically, but I think if (Joey) Bosa has his way, he can do some damage. He's a decent college guy and projects as a guard for the league, but he's limited athletically. He's a big body, but I watched Bosa play against (Taylor) Lewan and play well, so I think he can have a day with him."

"Vic Beasley, the defensive end, No. 3, he's their best player on defense. He came in as a running back – he was a little (guy) – and he's the type of guy in the league who projects as a third-down only player, kind of like the guy from West Virginia, (Bruce) Irvin, who went to Seattle. He won't be a three-down player in the league. You watch his film, he struggles against the run. He's not that strong at the point of attack. He's the type of guy who has a quick first step, which is very good. He can beat you – he's a dipper around the edge. He's going to try to beat you with his speed. He doesn't like physical contact if you watch him. He's overmatched in the run game. If I'm Ohio State, I would run at him, but (Jack) Mewhort is going to have his work cut out for him in pass pro because this guy can get off the ball. He did decently well against the Florida State guy who is projected as a prospect. I could see him maybe – I don't think I would, but I could see him going second round in the draft. He's just a speed guy. He's not going to beat you physically. Mewhort is going to have to have a good game because I will say besides Khalil Mack, he might be the best defensive end he faces all year. He's all speed. He's going to dip and rip or try to run around you or get you with the first step. He ain't gonna bullrush you. He isn't going to try to go through you. He doesn't like physical contact if you watch him. He gets washed down in run plays a lot. That's the only time you want him in the game, coming off the edge.

"But their secondary, they don't really have anybody (that stands out from a draft standpoint). Their linebackers, they don't have anybody. In all honesty, their defense is nothing really special."

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