You've read the mock drafts for five months. You've analyzed, overanalyzed, and overanalyzed some more. So, on the eve of the NFL Draft's opening round, what better than another mock draft?
This one is a little different. South Carolina has a handful of NFL Draft hopefuls embarking on a potentially life-changing weekend. In the space below, we're only focusing on them. Here's a glimpse at where they may be taken.
(As with all mock drafts, a disclaimer: these are educated guesses . at best. Read for fun. Don't take it too seriously.)
I think George Rogers put it best. "I knew when my time was up," the former Heisman Trophy running back told me. "I used to run by the defensive backs, but when the linemen start catching you, it's time to get out of the league." Rogers, the only South Carolina player to be selected No. 1 in the NFL Draft, was talking about himself. You get the feeling a lot of NFL running backs are about to feel the same way this fall. Clowney's speed and ability to rush the passer is prodigious. There are trade rumors, of course. There almost always are with the No. 1 pick. But I don't see how the Texans can pass on the best player in the draft - by far - for two reasons. First, they share a division with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, so they can't have enough pass rushing. Second, the chance to pair Clowney with fellow superstar defensive lineman J.J. Watt has to be tantalizing.
The Eagles could us a speedy receiver with major potential after the departure of Desean Jackson, and Ellington fits that description well. There are several second- and third-round destinations where Ellington could wind up, but the Moncks Corner native is firmly on Philadelphia's radar. The Eagles are among the teams that have shown the most interest in Ellington throughout the process, and they could match a need with good value here.
The Bears are interested in the 6-foot-4, 297-pound defensive tackle. Quarles listed them as one of the teams he's worked out with leading up to the draft. While lacking overwhelming size, Quarles is an athletic and potentially explosive interior lineman who would be a good fit in Chicago's 4-3 defense.
Hampton said he's worked out with the New England Patriots and Cleveland Browns. Obviously, the Jets are neither of those teams. However, the Jets need defensive back help perhaps more than any team in the league. If they snatched Hampton this late in the draft, it could be a steal. Hampton has major potential to be a good cornerback at the next level. If it weren't for "character issues" - as Hampton himself alluded to this weekend - he could easily be taken a round or two higher.
Shaw has drawn interest from several teams through the draft process, but none more than the Jaguars. Jacksonville's quarterback position is depleted. The Jaguars could use a starter - and maybe a backup too - from this draft. In Shaw, they would get a proven winner who makes good decisions, takes care of the football, flashes an ability to hurt defenses in multiple ways and, perhaps above all, is a great presence to have in a locker room. It wouldn't hurt to reunite with former Gamecocks receiver Ace Sanders.
It wouldn't surprise me if Sutton sneaked into the seventh round. In this scenario, he would surely be one of the first players receiving calls from NFL teams interested in signing him as an undrafted free agent. He's great to have in the locker room. He's a versatile player as an edge rusher at either defensive end or outside linebacker. And I think he's good enough to find a way into the league, helping on special teams if nothing else. What's working against him? There were 335 players invited to the NFL Combine in February, and Sutton wasn't one. With only 256 players being drafted, those are some serious odds to overcome.