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Opinion: NFL draft landing spots for former Tigers

Ashleigh Snyder
Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. has been a consistent piece of the Tiger’s defense for the last three years; pictured returning a pick six against Notre Dame.

As the 2024 NFL draft approaches, several Clemson football alumni are eagerly waiting to hear their names called. Following impressive combine and Pro Day performances, below are the speculated landing spots for the Tiger’s top prospects of this cycle:

Jeremiah Trotter Jr. – Though Trotter would be a legacy pick for the Philadelphia Eagles, following in the footsteps of his legendary father, their most pressing need is more in the secondary than linebacker position. While I selfishly want to see him in black and gold as a Steelers fan, I think it’s more likely he will go in the first round to Tampa Bay or early in the second to Tennessee.

Nate Wiggins – The impressively athletic cornerback solidified himself as a fan favorite in his three years with the Tigers thanks to his game-making tendencies. His speed, coverage and agility will add crucial depth to depleted secondaries, and he looks like he will go in the latter half of the first round. With Jacksonville’s position at No. 17 and Pittsburgh’s at No. 20, I’m led to believe the Jaguars or Steelers will be Wiggins’ next home.

Will Shipley – Shipley has defined Clemson’s offense for his past three years as RB1, gathering 31 rushing touchdowns and 2,747 yards. He put on an impressive showing at Pro Day after not participating in the combine, though analysts believe his smaller build will bump him to a third or fourth-round selection.

Knowing Shipley, this will only put a chip on his shoulder and give him the push to prove his worth. I see him suiting up for his hometown team, which is in severe need of assistance in the backfield, the Carolina Panthers.

Ruke Orhorhoro – Orhorhoro will be valuable on any defensive line, providing talent in practice snaps and rotational depth for a position group often depleted by injuries. His late to mid-round projection means he won’t be selected by a team in dire need of a tackle early on, but adding depth to the roster of teams like the Indianapolis Colts or Minnesota Vikings is a real possibility.

Xavier Thomas – The infamously explosive edge rusher is one of the most experienced players in program history as redshirting, various injuries and Covid kept him with the Tigers for six years. His proneness to injury has raised concerns among recruits, though his 4.55 second 40-yard dash raised a few eyebrows as well. I see him going in the later rounds to Denver, Minnesota or the Arizona Cardinals.

Tyler Davis – In my opinion, Davis is criminally underrated by draft analysts. He’s been a consistent starter for the Tigers since his freshman year in 2019, racking up 146 tackles and 16 sacks. He’s quicker than most tackles thanks to his “smaller” frame (a light 6-foot-2, 300 pounds) and aggressive off the ground. I think his talents would be best appreciated in Cleveland, Dallas or Miami, where he could add depth as a mid-round pick.

Center Will Putnam, cornerback Sheridan Jones, safety Jalyn Phillips and defensive end Justin Mascoll have also entered the draft; they are currently predicted to be undrafted free agents with chances to battle for a spot on a practice squad.

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Grace O'Donnell
Grace O'Donnell, Sports Editor
Ashleigh Snyder
Ashleigh Snyder, Photo Editor
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