COLUMBIA — For a trio of NFL hopefuls from South Carolina, the wait to be drafted will extend into another day.
For the first time since 2010, no Gamecocks were chosen in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. The second and third rounds passed Friday night with receiver Pharoh Cooper, tight end Jerell Adams, and offensive tackle Brandon Shell still on the board.
The fourth through seventh rounds of the draft are scheduled for Saturday. Cooper had been projected as a potential second-round selection, while Adams was forecast by some to go in the third. Shell was seen as a fifth- to seventh-round pick on the draft’s final day.
Nine receivers were taken in the first three rounds of the draft, with Cooper and Clemson’s Charone Peake listed among the best still remaining by NFL.com. The 5-11, 207-pound Cooper, an All-SEC selection in each of the past two seasons, led the Gamecocks last year with 66 receptions for 973 yards and eight touchdowns.
“I love it. All good baby,” Cooper, watching from his hometown of Havelock, N.C., tweeted after the second day of the draft had ended.
Three tight ends were taken in the first two days of the draft, and NFL.com listed Adams as the second-best still available behind Tyler Higbee of Western Kentucky. The 6-6, 231-pound Pinewood native saw his stock rise at the NFL combine after finishing his senior campaign with 28 receptions for 421 yards and three touchdowns.
Shell, a 6-6, 328-pound Goose Creek native, made 48 starts over his four years at USC, 47 of them consecutively. He played right tackle for three years before moving to the left side as a senior, and has also been forecast by some scouts as a guard.
“That’s big in his favor,” said his great uncle Art Shell, a Hall of Fame tackle and former head coach of the Raiders. “When I was coaching, I always wanted to go in with eight (offensive linemen) for the game. Now teams are pushing it, because they want to take that extra position and move it maybe to special teams or an extra defensive back.
“So they go in the game with seven (offensive linemen). If you go in the game with seven people, you better have some versatility in those two guys who are backing up. So (Brandon) has the ability in my mind to do that.”
Shell would be the third USC offensive lineman drafted in the past two years, joining former teammates A.J. Cann (third round, Jaguars) and Corey Robinson (seventh round, Lions), who were taken in 2015. The Gamecocks have had 51 players taken in the draft since 2000.