NFL Draft prospects for Clemson defenders, punter

Clemson LB Stephone Anthony, seen here in the 2014 Orange Bowl, is a projected third-round NFL draft pick this spring, via ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. (Clemson sports information)

CLEMSON – Once Vic Beasley is selected in the 2015 NFL Draft, it’ll be on a few other key defenders from the Tigers’ No. 1-ranked defense to give Clemson its customary fare of multiple draft picks.

Linebacker Stephone Anthony and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, first-team all-ACC honorees along with Beasley, figure to hear their name called at some point during the weekend of April 30-May 2. The question is when, and where.

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had healthy reviews of each player in a conference call Wednesday, but was tepid in his round projection.

On Anthony: “I like him, his production is off the charts. I love his instincts; he gets through traffic very effectively. I have him as the fifth-best inside linebacker right now with a third-round grade.”

And on Jarrett: “An overachiever type. Probably a late-rounder, but a guy I think can play in the NFL.”

Anthony, who made 330 tackles during his Clemson career, measured in at 6-2, 245 pounds at the Senior Bowl this week. Jarrett was 6-0, 288.

Kiper, in a December teleconference, labeled Beasley a first-rounder for his 33 career sacks, while acknowledging Wednesday the combo outside linebacker/defensive end types like Beasley is “the deepest position in this draft.”

Also, Kiper acknowledged the long odds faced by Clemson punter Bradley Pinion, who became the second punter or kicker in the past two decades to forego college eligibility in favor of turning professional.

“You look at the punters and kickers, there’s four or five guys in that mix who are draftable. I think only one gets drafted, maybe none,” Kiper said, “so you’re probably going to have to battle your way in as an undrafted free agent and see what happens.”

In fairness to Pinion, who placed 55 punts inside the 20 with just two touchbacks in college, it might behoove him to not get drafted and have the ability to hand-pick his NFL destination, in hopes of landing a job in fall camp.