Brandon Shell’s first step toward the NFL will be at the league’s combine in Indianapolis later this month.
The Goose Creek native was one of four South Carolina players invited to the combine, scheduled for Feb. 23-29 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Gamecocks’ offensive tackle will be joined by three teammates, receiver Pharoh Cooper, tight end Jerell Adams and running back Brandon Wilds.
Clemson will send eight players to the combine from the team that played in the College Football Playoff national championship game: cornerback Mackensie Alexander, defensive ends Kevin Dodd and Shaq Lawson, linebacker B.J. Goodson, safeties Jayron Kearse and T.J. Green, receiver Charone Peak and nose tackle D.J. Reader.
Also invited was Notre Dame receiver Chris Brown, a former Hanahan High School standout.
Two South Carolina State players, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and tight end Temarrick Hemingway, have also been invited to the combine, in which draft prospects perform physical workouts and mental tasks such as interviews in front of league coaches, scouts, and general managers.
Shell, 6-6 and 328 pounds, made 48 career starts for the Gamecocks, including 47 in a row. A left tackle his senior season, Shell is rated by CBS Sports as the No. 20 offensive tackle and is expected to go in the later rounds of the draft, set for April 28-30 in Chicago.
Cooper is rated by CBS as the eighth-best wide receiver, and projected to go in the second round. Adams is rated the No. 6 tight end, and is forecast to be selected in the draft’s middle rounds.
Alexander is rated by CBS as the top cornerback available in the draft, and is projected to go in the first round. So is Lawson, rated the No. 3 defensive end. Dodd, rated the sixth-best defensive end, is forecast to go in the second round, while Kearse, Green and Reader are all projected as middle- to late-round selections.
One notable absence was Clemson offensive guard Eric Mac Lain, a senior captain and All-ACC selection who was not among the Tigers players invited to the combine.