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Comparing Clemson football draft prospects to professionals

John Harrelson, Contributor

Justyn Ross (8) and Tee Higgins (5) in the 2019 College Football Playoff.

The NFL Scouting Combine has come to an end, leaving the 2022 NFL Draft just over a month away and several former Tigers looking for a new home in the big leagues. 

A class headlined by All-ACC cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., experts project that four former Tigers will find themselves on an NFL roster come April. Here are a few player comparisons for Clemson’s projected draftees. 

Andrew Booth Jr., Cornerback 

Booth will likely be selected in the first round of this year’s draft. He is a borderline lockdown cornerback in man-to-man coverage, which has never been a more valuable skill to have in the NFL. He is incredibly physical in press coverage and is as intelligent as they come. He always seems to know where to be on the football field. 

Marshon Lattimore is the most accurate comparison for Booth. Wide receivers dread facing either of these menacing corners in single coverage for good reason. Lattimore is a bit more athletically gifted, but Booth’s run support and high motor mask any athletic shortcomings.   

Justyn Ross, Wide Receiver  

Once projected as a future first-round pick, injuries have sadly impacted Ross’ likelihood to be a highly drafted wideout. Having lost some of the top-notch athleticism Clemson fans fawned over in his freshman year, Justyn Ross will likely fall to the mid to late-rounds of the draft.  

With his 6-foot-4 stature and crisp route-running abilities, Ross can still find success in the NFL. His ability to haul in contested catches down the field resembles former New Orleans Saints star, Marques Colston. Both Ross and Colston have rare blends of height, speed, soft hands and the capability to turn on a dime.  

Mario Goodrich III, Cornerback 

Goodrich is a physical cornerback that excels in zone coverage. In 2021, he finished with 42 tackles, two interceptions and nine pass break ups. 

At the NFL Scouting Combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds and ranked 23rd out of 25 participating cornerbacks. Where Goodrich lacks in speed, his tackling ability and intelligence are great assets to his draft stock. 

His traits most strongly correlate with Jaylon Johnson, starting cornerback for the Chicago Bears. Both of these players succeed when assigned in zone coverage, close to the line of scrimmage or when covering a large area further down the field. He will likely be a late-round pick in the upcoming draft.   

Baylon Spector, Linebacker  

Baylon Spector, former two-year starting linebacker at Clemson, may have worked his way into the draft conversation at the Combine this past week, but still has glaring weaknesses. He measured at 6-feet and 233lbs, which is quite undersized by NFL standards.  

At Combine workouts, he was middle of the pack in terms of events. With a 4.6 second 40-yard dash, he ranked 12th among 23 participating linebackers. He also showed off his explosiveness with a 36 vertical jump, which was good for 13th in the linebacker group.  

Spector was a reliable starter at Clemson for two years, relying on instinct and fundamental tackling to make an impact for the Tigers. His skillset resembles Tyler Matakevich, a high-level special teamer for the Buffalo Bills.   

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