What an NFL Draft run for the Palmetto State.

Clemson running back C.J. Spiller was the ninth overall pick in 2010. A pair of former Lowcountry high school stars – Summerville’s A.J. Green and Fort Dorchester’s Robert Quinn – went in the 2011 first round.

The 2012 draft marked the first time since 1981 that two South Carolina Gamecocks – Stephon Gilmore and Melvin Ingram – were picked in the first round.

Next year is all about Jadeveon Clowney, the Gamecocks’ All-Planet pass rusher.

But 2013 isn’t bad for an NFL Draft “off year.” Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins made 48 consecutive one-handed catches on ESPN’s “Sports Science” this week and, more impressively, might go in the first round Thursday night. South Carolina’s D.J. Swearinger and Clemson’s Andre Ellington (Berkeley High School) are likely early picks. Wherever Marcus Lattimore goes in the draft, the South Carolina running back and his recovery from knee surgery is a major draft storyline.

State natives among top draft prospects include Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (Rock Hill) and LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery (Greenwood).

Here are the top draft candidates from South Carolina and Clemson, and a selection projection:

THURSDAY (Round 1)

DeAndre Hopkins

School: Clemson

Position: Wide receiver

Height/Weight: 6-1, 214

Note: A junior with great hands, “Nuk” vaulted out of Sammy Watkins’ shadow last season, an 18-touchdown year capped with his famed fourth-and-16 catch against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Hopkins was involved in an NFL Combine controversy last week when his name was connected to a trashed Indianapolis hotel room (he vehemently denied accusations).

What they’re saying: “He’s got really soft hands and knows how to position his body,” said NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt, the former Dallas Cowboys personnel director.

FRIDAY (Rounds 2-3)

D.J. Swearinger

School: South Carolina

Position: Safety

Height/Weight: 5-11, 208

Note: A fearless and fierce hitter with coverage and blitzing skills, Swearinger plays better than his size and modest Combine numbers.

What they’re saying: “He plays with confidence,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said. “He’s a rough, tough kid. And then you have to have the computer numbers to justify it, and he has. When you look at him on paper and you compare his numbers at 208 pounds, he plays, I think, faster than his times, anyway. And you look at his production and his consistency, and you’ve got to think second round. That’s where I have him projected.”

Andre Ellington

School: Clemson

Position: Running back

Height/Weight: 5-10, 199

Note: When healthy, Ellington was one of the nation’s best running backs over the last three seasons: 3,436 rushing yards, 33 touchdowns and 59 receptions. Plus, he’s a good kick returner. Durability — Ellington pulled a hamstring at the NFL Combine – has been a problem.

What they’re saying: “He can catch a football; he’s tougher than people think,” The NFL Network’s Mike Mayock told Michigan Live. “He would protect (Detroit Lions quarterback) Matt Stafford. He would give up his body to block for him.”

Marcus Lattimore

School: South Carolina

Position: Running back

Height/weight: 6-0, 225

Note: Almost everyone is pulling for Lattimore to bounce back in the NFL after a horrific knee injury suffered last fall against Tennessee. Lattimore’s recovery is going better than expected but there is no target date.

What they’re saying: “Everything has been progressing perfect,” Lattimore said. “I know I’ll be back playing football, no doubt. One team is going to believe in me. I know that.”

SATURDAY (Rounds 4-7)

Malliciah Goodman

School: Clemson

Position: Defensive end

Height/Weight: 6-4, 275

Note: Underachieved as a senior – until his three sacks against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Ace Sanders

School: South Carolina

Position: Wide receiver/return specialist

Height/Weight: 5-7, 175

Note: Junior star of the Gamecocks’ Outback Bowl victory over Michigan is most likely to make his NFL impact in the return game.

DeVonte Holloman

School: South Carolina

Position: Outside linebacker

Height/Weight: 6-2, 245

Note: Typical pluses and minuses for a “tweener” who isn’t quite a strong safety but has enough strength to take on blockers as a linebacker.

Devin Taylor

School: South Carolina

Position: Defensive end

Height/Weight: 6-7, 268

Note: Scouts love the basketball wingspan and intelligence, but not the inconsistency.

Dalton Freeman

School: Clemson

Position: Center

Height/Weight: 6-5, 294

Note: A smart, agile player who will have to add bulk to ward off massive NFL interior linemen.

Rashard Hall

School: Clemson

Position: Safety

Height/Weight: 6-2, 210

Note: Made some big plays and can deliver ball-jarring hits but consistency was an issue.

Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter @sapakoff