CLEMSON — Former Clemson left tackle Isaiah Battle became the Tigers’ first and only NFL draft pick on offense during the 2015 calendar year Thursday.
Battle was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the fifth round of this year’s NFL supplemental draft. Although he entered the summer expecting to anchor Clemson’s pass protection as a senior, Battle announced June 25 he was leaving school after finding out he was going to be a father soon.
Battle also has a pending marijuana charge from early June.
He is the first NFL supplemental draft pick since Cleveland took receiver Josh Gordon in 2012. The Rams will have to forfeit their fifth-round pick in 2016 for the privilege of taking Battle’s draft rights, and he can sign with the team immediately — though it doesn’t sound like playing time is in his immediate future.
“We felt it was an opportunity to get an earlier round value for a later round price,” St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead said in a team press release. “He’s going to practice what would’ve been his final year of college eligibility with us, go through our offseason program, and then start his rookie season a year from now. This will allow us to bring him along gradually both on and off the field. Now it’s up to Isaiah and us to go work to reach his potential as a person and player.”
St. Louis spent three of its first five picks in the 2015 NFL Draft on players who were offensive tackles in college: Wisconsin’s Rob Havenstein in the second round, Louisville’s Jamon Brown in the third round and Iowa’s Andrew Donnal in the fourth round.
The Rams traded for quarterback Nick Foles in the offseason and drafted ex-Georgia tailback Todd Gurley 10th overall in April.
Neither Battle nor his agent, Tony Paige, could be reached immediately for comment. Battle held a Pro Day Tuesday hosted by Clemson, and has not spoken with reporters since spring practices.
Battle becomes the Tigers’ first NFL supplemental draft pick in its current structure, and the Rams’ first selection of a Clemson player since defensive tackle Dorell Scott went in the 2009 fourth round.