Christian Wilkins Kendall Joseph Clemson autographs.jpg (copy)

Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins (left) charmed fans, signed autographs, and posed for photographs along with linebacker Kendall Joseph of the Clemson Tigers’ College Football Playoff National Championship team at The Fan Zone in North Charleston Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. Wilkins is projected as a first-round NFL draft pick. Wade Spees/Staff

There are no sure things when it comes to an NFL draft concept grounded in the long tradition of experts gathering in “war rooms” to come up with thoroughly vetted answers such as Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Tony Mandarich …

Where have you gone, Andre Ware?

But it’s more than possible that Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Deebo Samuel will make their NFL teams happy for years to come and that Tre Lamar, Hunter Renfrow and Zack Bailey will wind up as tremendous value picks.

Clemson can set a pair of school records during the 2019 NFL draft that starts Thursday night and ends Saturday. The Tigers have had 10 players picked in one draft (1983) but never 11. They have had two players picked in the first round four times (1979, 1982, 2015, 2017) but not three.

The best landing spots for each Clemson and South Carolina draft prospect, in order of projected selection:

Christian Wilkins, defensive tackle, Clemson

Round: 1

Team: Green Bay Packers

Not wishing this on Wilkins, but Green Bay desperately needs a versatile talent and infectious heart on defense. Wilkins checks both boxes.

Clelin Ferrell, defensive end, Clemson

Round 1

Team: Miami Dolphins

Ferrell can send his Green Bay buddy postcards in December; the depleted Dolphins need an edge rusher worse than Lambeau Field needs a South Beach tan. 

Clemson vs South Carolina (copy)

Clemson defensive linemen Clelin Ferrell (99) and Dexter Lawrence (90) celebrate after a tackle against South Carolina in 2017. Both players are projected as early picks in the 2019 NFL draft. Gwinn Davis/Special to The Post and Courier

Dexter Lawrence, defensive tackle, Clemson

Round: 1

Team: Los Angeles Chargers

So many second-round predictions for Lawrence, some evidently because of a positive PED test that kept him out of the Tigers’ two College Football Playoff games last season. But it’s easy for Chargers coach Anthony Lynn to rationalize why a 6-4, 340-pound run-stuffer with enough quickness to rush the passer makes perfect late-round sense.


South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel (1) breaks free from Clemson safety Nolan Turner (24). The Clemson Tigers faced the South Carolina Gamecocks at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, Saturday, November 24, 2018. Gwinn Davis/Special to The Post and Courier

Deebo Samuel, wide receiver, South Carolina

Round 2

Team: Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars need new toys for new quarterback Nick Foles. The dynamic Deebo also offers help in the return game.

Trayvon Mullen, cornerback, Clemson

Round 3

Team: Houston Texans

Expect a good scouting report from Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Mullen’s former Clemson teammate. Houston needs more than a little help in the secondary.

Dennis Daley, tackle, South Carolina

Round 4

Team: Carolina Panthers

Even if the Panthers go with a top blindside protector for Cam Newton in the first round, it’s not too early to rebuild the offensive line when trying to create space for Newton and Christian McCaffrey.

Austin Bryant, defensive end, Clemson

Round: 4

Team: Indianapolis Colts

Did he benefit from playing on the perhaps the best defensive line in college football history? Certainly. An NFL linebacker? Probably. And Bryant fits nicely into a young roster dotted with unsung stars.


Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (13) keeps his balance against N.C. State in a 2018 Tigers win. Gwinn Davis/Special to The Post and Courier

Hunter Renfrow, wide receiver, Clemson

Round 4

Team: New England Patriots

Of course, Renfrow is one of those guys who is so undervalued he might get overvalued. But how fun, learning from Tom Brady and Julian Edelman. Bill Belichick will find a way to use the newly married Socastee High School grad as a punter, punt returner and as a passer who finds Brady wide open for a touchdown.

Tre Lamar, linebacker, Clemson

Round: 5

Team: Arizona Cardinals

A team that finishes last in the NFL in rushing defense needs loads of help, which means nice opportunities for new guys. Lamar isn’t a track star but he’s tested tough.

Get a weekly recap of South Carolina opinion and analysis from The Post and Courier in your inbox on Monday evenings.

Mark Fields, cornerback, Clemson

Round 5

Team: Kansas City Chiefs

It would be such an Andy Reid choice to go with an undervalued son of a former NFL player, a guy that didn’t start but played well against Alabama in the most recent national championship game.

Bailey (copy)

South Carolina senior guard Zack Bailey (78) played all five offensive line positions while with the Gamecocks. Travis Bell/Sideline Carolina

Zack Bailey, guard, South Carolina

Round 6

Team: Denver Broncos

Bailey, the former Summerville High School standout, played all along the Gamecocks’ offensive line; the rebuilding Broncos need help at most of those spots. He would go way higher if not for a broken fibula suffered in the regular-season finale against Akron. 

Albert Huggins, defensive tackle, Clemson

Round 6

Team: Cincinnati Bengals

Another “backup” — though Huggins got 408 snaps last season — who came up big at the end of the season. In Huggins’ case it was as a starter who replaced Lawrence in the lineup against Notre Dame and Alabama. A steal for the struggling Bengals, aching for depth up front.

Mitch Hyatt, tackle, Clemson

Round: 7

Team: Houston Texans

Again, perhaps the Deshaun Watson nod. Getting to work against the likes of Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt in practice is helpful for a rookie blocker.

Kendall Joseph, linebacker, Clemson

Round: 7

Team: Chicago Bears

Small, sure, but relentless, a potential special teams star. NFL teams know Joseph got a lot of work ethic from his father, a former pro body-builder.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff

We're improving out commenting experience.

We’ve temporarily removed comments from articles while we work on a new and better commenting experience. In the meantime, subscribers are encouraged to join the conversation at our Post and Courier Subscribers group on Facebook.