Scouting the ACC: Clemson

It could justifiably said the Tigers took a step backwards last season as the program had high hopes but settled for a second-rate bowl game. The offering to last April's draft was minimal but that should change next year, on both sides of the ball.

Clemson Tigers

Offensively the team has a slew of talented receivers from the senior and underclassmen ranks that could break through but the top pro-prospect is tackle Derrick Brantley. A right tackle rotated in and out of the line-up last season, Brantley is an athletic and nimble lineman, light on his feet and strong at the point of attack. He anchors in pass protection but also displays the ability to block linebackers on the second level. Brantley has decent footwork and lateral agility, which makes a move to the left side a distinct possibility. He is not big, but does have size potential and if all goes as planned he is a first day pick next April. Seniors Jackie Robinson and JJ McKelvey along with junior Kevin Youngblood are the pass catchers to watch. McKelvey and Youngblood especially as they are big receivers with terrific size but McKelvey needs to become more consistent and Youngblood more involved in the offense before and early round consideration is given to either.

The best prospects from the other side of the ball are on the line. Nick Eason was highly rankled coming into his junior campaign but a bum ankle hampered him all of 2001. Eason is athletic and explosive, displaying a tremendous first step off the snap and a great burst of closing speed. He also makes plays laterally up and down the line of scrimmage but is undersized for the defensive tackle position and would be better served back at end (where he started his career). He also needs to fine-tune the instincts as Eason is a little slow locating the ball but all things considered, a big senior campaign will push him into the early frames. Bryant McNeal is a small defensive end with a relentless style of play. McNeal is always chasing the action around the field, working to get involved in the play but at barely 230-pounds he is too small for a rush end and does not show the playing speed to make a move to linebacker.

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