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How some of your favorite Tigers are doing in the NFL

Caleb Browder, Contributor

Former Clemson cornerback, A.J. Terrell (8), prepares for a play during the 2020 National Championship game against LSU on Jan. 13, 2020.

Every year Clemson football loses players, most of which graduate and move on to a career that does not revolve solely around football. Some, however, choose to take their talents to the next level and make the transition to the NFL. After a quarter of the NFL regular season has been put into the books, it is time to check in on our Tigers and see how they are performing in the big leagues.
AJ Terrell, Cornerback: 

When Terrell left the field for the last time as a Clemson football player, he had just had arguably the worst game of his collegiate career in the 2020 National Championship game, when he was burnt on multiple occasions by LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase. However, that performance did not prevent him from being drafted by the Atlanta Falcons at No. 16 in the 2020 NFL draft. In his first two games, Terrell started and played competitively and accumulated 11 total tackles. Unfortunately, the most prominent moment for Terrell’s season came off the field, when he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The good news for Falcon and Tiger fans is that Terrell is back in team meetings and is looking to make his return for the week five matchup against the Carolina Panthers.

Isaiah Simmons, Linebacker:

Drafted at No. 8 in the 2020 NFL Draft, Simmons’ positional status was in question as to whether or not he would play linebacker, safety or a combination of both. After four games, it appears that he will play the majority of his snaps at linebacker. Although equipped with phenomenal athletic abilities, Simmons has struggled with the transition to the NFL, especially in man to man coverage. In the opener against the San Francisco 49ers, Simmons gave up multiple receptions, highlighted by a 76-yard touchdown for 49ers’ running back Raheem Mostert, which could have likely been a short gain had Simmons played the route correctly. Simmons has been tasked to cover some of the league’s top weapons, such as All-Pro tight end George Kittle, so although the young linebacker may be struggling now, he has the skills to develop into a complete player.

Tee Higgins, Wide Receiver: 
Higgins was the sixth receiver taken in the 2020 NFL draft and is third in the depth chart for the Cincinnati Bengals, yet he has shown flashes that may make teams regret passing on him. After a mediocre first two weeks, Higgins has had a combined 117 yards and two touchdown receptions in weeks three and four. As Bengals wideout A.J. Green continues to age, look for Higgins to fill his spot and become a reliable weapon for former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. 

Deshaun Watson, Quarterback:

Watson left Clemson in dramatic fashion, bringing home Clemson’s second national championship after a historic final drive against Alabama in the 2017 National Championship game. Since he was drafted by the Houston Texans, Watson has not skipped a beat, reaching the playoffs in both seasons when he has been healthy for the entire year. This season, however, it has been a struggle through four weeks of football for Watson and the Texans. Despite accumulating over 1,000 passing yards, Watson is once again at the mercy of his horrendous offensive line performance, which has allowed Watson to be sacked a league-high 16 times. Since the departure of wide receiver and Clemson graduate Deandre Hopkins, the Texans’ offense has been a shell of its former self, and it will be up to Watson to bring the team out of this slump.

Deandre Hopkins, Wide Receiver:

The deal that sent Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals may be hurting Watson, but the 6’1” receiver seems to be fitting in quite nicely with his new team. Hopkins had fantastic hands and playmaking ability in college and is continuing to display that skill set with a league-leading 39 receptions and the fourth most receiving yards. He and Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray have already established a strong connection, which will be key for Hopkins and the Cardinals to push themselves into the playoff mix. 

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