March 22, 2018

CU in the NFL – DW4 & Nuk light up Legion of Boom & other stats from Tigers in the league

A look at the stats for Clemson players in the NFL.

Please let me know of errors and omissions.

Podcast: NFL Draft Review, Recruiting Notes, Tweets of the Week

The SUR team recaps the NFL draft Clemson style and finds some interesting tweets, including one from our feathered friends in Columbia.

Time Marks:
01:20 – Shaq Lawson
03:40 – Kevin Dodd
06:26 – Mackensie Alexander/Jayron Kease
11:17 – T.J. Green
15:04 – B.J. Goodson
17:11 – D.J. Reader
19:32 – Charone Peake
21:53 – Zac Brooks
24:54 – Random NFL Draft thoughts (Tunsil, etc)
33:13 – Recruiting News and Notes
43:31 – Tweets of the week
54:17 – Coming Up on SUR

You can also download and subscribe to the podcast here via iTunes.

NFL Draft Preview: Where Will the Tigers Land?

Here are the various sources used for each breakdown of the Clemson prospects. Continue scrolling to see each prospect’s corresponding big board ranking and mock draft results.

Big Boards


Top 5 Most Accurate Mock Draft Analysts Last 5 Years(

Popular/Reputable Mock Drafts:

*If you don’t see a Mock Draft under a prospect’s name, it means he was not selected in said Mock Draft. *

Shaq Lawson

  • Miller’s Big Board – #2 EDGE, #15 Overall, “Best vs Run,” “Best 4-3 End”, “Lowest Risk”
  • Mayock’s Big Board – #13 overall
  • Boris – 11. Chicago Bears
  • Long – 11. Chicago Bears
  • Standig – 20. New York Jets
  • Clark – 19. Buffalo Bills
  • Mayock – 13. Miami Dolphins
  • Miller – 19. Buffalo Bills
  • WalterFootball – 12. New Orleans Saints
  • Zierlein – 20. New York Jets
  • Reuter – 8. Cleveland Browns

Kevin Dodd

  • Miller’s Big Board – #8 DE, #29 overall
  • Mayock’s Big Board – #30 Overall
  • Boris – 30. Carolina Panthers
  • Long – 30. Carolina Panthers
  • Standig – 42. Miami Dolphins
  • Mayock – 30. Carolina Panthers
  • Miller – 26. Seattle Seahawks
  • WalterFootball – 32. Cleveland Browns
  • Zierlein- 30. Carolina Panthers
  • Reuter – 12. New Orleans Saints

Mackensie Alexander

  • Miller’s Big Board – #5 CB, #43 overall
  • Mayock’s Big Board – #48 Overall
  • Long – 28. Kansas City Chiefs
  • Standig – 34. Dallas Cowboys
  • Miller – Rd. 2 Pick 31- Carolina Panthers
  • WalterFootball – 37. SF 49ers
  • Zierlein – 25. Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Reuter – 48. Indianapolis Colts

TJ Green

  • Miller’s Big Board – #2 Free Safety, #44 overall, “Best Potential”
  • Mayock’s Big Board – #73 Overall
  • Standig – 59. Kansas City Chiefs
  • Miller – 29. Arizona Cardinals
  • WalterFootball – 84. Washington Redskins
  • Reuter – 29. Arizona Cardinals

Charone Peake

  • Miller’s Big Board – #9 WR, #55 Overall , “Biggest Sleeper”
  • Mayock’s Big Board – Not Listed
  • Miller – Round 3- Pick #4 – Dallas Cowboys
  • WalterFootball – 105. SF 49ers
  • Reuter – 113. LA Rams

Jayron Kearse

  • Miller’s Big Board – #4 SS, #103 Overall, “Best Coverage”
  • Mayock’s Big Board – Not Listed
  • Miller – Round 4- Pick #24 – Cincinnati Bengals
  • WalterFootball – 178. Denver Broncos
  • Reuter – 136. Denver Broncos

DJ Reader

  • Miller’s Big Board – #28 DL, #236 Overall
  • Mayock’s Big Board – Not Listed
  • Miller – Round 7 – Pick #13 – Oakland Raiders
  • WalterFootball – 159. Houston Texans
  • Reuter – 119. Houston Texans

BJ Goodson

  • Miller’s Big Board – #25 LB, #234 overall
  • Mayock’s Big Board – Not Listed
  • Miller – Round 7 – Pick #6 – Miami Dolphins
  • WalterFootball – 107. Miami Dolphins
  • Reuter – 98. Denver Broncos

Eric Mac Lain

  • Miller’s Big Board – #23 Guard, #421 Overall
  • Mayock’s Big Board – Not Listed

NFL Draft Profile: DJ Reader

As the 2016 NFL Draft nears, we’ll take a look at several Clemson Tigers expected to be drafted. This includes observing the prospects’ strengths and weaknesses, clips from the season, and current analyst projections.

Going into the 2015 football season, DJ Reader was expected to be a leader and the anchor of the defensive line. He waited his turn and was prepared to take the next step as one of the best defensive tackles in the country as a senior. Most who witnessed his production in the spring noted his weight loss, and an incredibly agile big man ready to wreak havoc on offensive lines throughout the ACC. Unfortunately as the season was about to begin, everyone was taken aback by jarring news that Reader would be leaving the team to take time off from football. Many noted the devastation of his father’s death a year earlier, and his struggle to deal with that pain in his life. Reader would return to the team midseason and prove to be a productive force in the trenches.

Reader’s Positives:

  • Size – DJ is an absolute load to deal with in the middle of the line. Sitting at roughly 340 lbs, he’s nearly impossible for offensive lineman to simply push out of the way. Destined as a nose tackle in the NFL, teams will look for his big body to plug up running lines and cause disruption as he so very well does. He’s also a natural athlete, even playing baseball for a short period in his freshman year at Clemson. There are very few 340 pound lineman that can be considered as “nimble,” but I’d argue Reader is one.
  • Space Eater – Reader has size and knows how to use it. Couple that with brute strength from his time in the weight room, and he can be a bull in the trenches. He knows how to utilize his size and strength to be an immovable gap filler.  You’ll see that below. Pure strength to penetrate and disrupt the line.

Another example from the national championship, which was quite easily Reader’s best game in orange.

And yet another for Reader’s biggest selling point: You don’t want to be in the way of DJ’s momentum, just ask Samaje Perine.


  • Pocket Pusher – Reader didn’t show up much on the “sack” stat line, his game more of plugging up running lanes and cleaning up whatever else was necessary. However when pass-rushing, especially one-on-one, he was almost always was able to bullrush and collapse the pocket. This in turn obviously forcing the opposing quarterback to step away from Reader and generally into the hands of another Clemson defender. Here’s another example of Reader’s bullrushing capabilities. Oklahoma’s poor left tackle get put on an island against Reader and then on skates. Once Reader gets moving downhill, there isn’t much stopping his momentum.

Reasons for Hesitation:

  • Production – Reader wasn’t much of a stat-stuffer, especially with his time taken off this past season. He finished the year playing 6 games and totaling 13 tackles, 1.5 for loss, and 0.5 sacks. Not exactly production that’s going to jump off the paper, so he has to prove his abilities through the combine and film. Potentially a product of his time off, but his conditioning wasn’t overly impressive throughout his time this past season. This forced Reader to be limited in snaps and rotated in and out throughout the game. To grasp an appreciation, teams will have to delve a bit further into their research.
  • Rushing Moves – Reader is a big body and force, but doesn’t possess a great variety of rushing moves outside of a bull rush. He’s decent with his hands, but once an offensive lineman has a solid block on him, he tends to struggle to get off of it. In other words, he has to be great at initial contact or else he has the tendency to be taken out of the play. Here’s a play where Reader gets sealed off and unable to shed the block, allowing for a lane for Derrick Henry.


  • False Step/Head Down – Reader has the habit of putting his head down and just pushing forward through the line without diagnosing the play. With one false step in either direction, Reader quickly removes himself from being a presence in the play. He’s light on his feet considering size, but isn’t a guy who can quickly recover. Below is an example against Dalvin Cook and Florida State this past season. Notice his one step to the right, allowing the offensive lineman to reach block Reader and take him out of the play.


Walter Cherepinsky( – Fifth Round – 159. Houston Texans

Dane Brugler(CBSSports) – Fourth Round – 120. Washington Redskins

My Projection – Fourth Round – 119. Houston Texans – I’ll agree with Cherepinsky at WalterFootball here, seeing Reader as an ideal fit for Houston and one that I’d love to occur. Reader as a a massive nose tackle works in perfectly with Houston’s 3-4 defensive scheme. Additionally, the great Vince Wilfork is nearing the end of his NFL tenure, so the Texans may want to bring in an apprentice for Wilfork to groom. DJ would have the chance to develop and learn from one of the best, as well as have a positive role model to look up to.

The Latest:

April 16th – Reader is very tough to move at the point of attack. The heavy nose tackle is a good run-lane plugger who would fit as a nose tackle in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. He never made a lot of plays, but still filled his gap and ate up blockers. He had a respectable performance at the combine.


Featured photo cred: Twitter.

Video Clips via

“Looking for athletes? Come to Clemson.”


75%. The percentage of players under Dabo Swinney that have had an opportunity with an NFL team and made the roster. That’s not just draft picks, but includes the overlooked athletes, the ones that weren’t invited to the NFL Combine, the guys that were just given a tryout with an NFL team. So that’s a damn good number. 75%. 71 players under Dabo as head coach getting an NFL opportunity with 53 making the roster. Just 1.6% of college football players make it in the NFL.

“I think they’re sticking because of the culture that they’re coming from. Everybody knows Sammy Watkins is going to go, and Vic…but you know Adam Humphries goes and is a free agent and ends up catching 30 or 40 passes for the Bucs. Starts his first NFL game. Those are the things people don’t see. DeShawn Williams make it…Tavaris Barnes. And I think they’re sticking, again, because of how we handle our business here and the overall development of them outside of the football field.” – Dabo Swinney.

  Ladies and gentlemen, Clemson University has become an NFL factory.

And much of that, those numbers, have to be attributed to the progress and the attention that Clemson’s Pro Day has brought to the program and players. The opportunity to hold a first class event at a top notch college football indoor facility with representatives from all 32 NFL teams. You build, you win, you bring attention to the program and its talent. And for every Sammy, Nuk, CJ, there is a Humphries, a Williams, a Barnes. Diamonds in the rough that may not be provided the same shot to make the big leagues if not for Clemson’s Pro Day. Today was no different. Another opportunity to show off the NFL talent produced at Clemson.

The star of the day was CB Mackensie Alexander. He sat out of the NFL Combine drills due to the hamstring injury he aggravated in the National Championship. Alexander said during the combine that he would be participating in all drills during Clemson’s Pro Day, “ready to put on a show.” Mack speaks facts.

His highlights were a blazing forty yard dash, in which he was clocked around 4.4 seconds depending on who was timing, and a 37″ vertical leap. Both of which would have put him in the top tier of defensive backs at the NFL Combine. Word is, however, his position workout is what really put his rising stock into full gear.

Tony Pauline of had this to say, “People are gushing over the position workout of Mackensie Alexander. He was very fluid and natural in all his movements. Teams love the versatility he offers and the ability to line up in multiple coverages; man coverage, backed off the line, and zone. Many are critical of Alexander’s stats last season: 5 PBUs and no interceptions, but as one scout rightfully said to me, “He can’t intercept the ball if no one is throwing it his way!””

The other major question of the day was Kevin Dodd, who pulled up lame with a hamstring injury while running the forty yard dash at the NFL Combine and was unable to go through position drills. His notable numbers included a 30.5″ vertical leap, 4.44 short shuttle and 7.31 in the 3-cone workout. Due to the emergence of 3-4 defenses in the NFL with more spread offenses, scouts and coaches wanted to see the defensive ends perform both 4-3 DE drills and 3-4 linebacker drills. Sentiment was that Dodd performed admirably in all phases, showing off athleticism that could put him into either defensive scheme. Dodd, already invited to the NFL Draft green room, now has to feel comfort in being drafted within the first round.

Speaking of 3-4 defenses, Shaq Lawson ran the 60 yard shuttle today at 11.79 seconds. The long shuttle, reserved for linebackers, was an opportunity for Lawson to show his ability to play linebacker in a 3-4. He would also participate in defensive line and linebacker drills alongside Dodd.

Both TJ Green and Jayron Kearse participated in defensive back positional drills during the pro day with contrasting reviews.

Said Pauline from, “T.J. Green looked much better in his positional workout at pro day compared to the Combine. He was smooth, and his footwork was much better. Green ran the short shuttle (4.4) and 3-cone (7.12) today. Conversely, scouts were not impressed by the positional work of Jayron Kearse. He was not as nearly as quick or smooth when taking reps with Green or Alexander. As one source said, Kearse may be best off adding 20 pounds and moving to linebacker.”

It’s interesting that working out with elite athletes like Alexander and Green has become a hindrance to Jayron Kearse’s NFL stock. For the defensive back position, at least. Clemson fans have seen Kearse fly to the ball and make plays close to the line as a strong safety. Many would point to his jarring hit on a Georgia Tech running back just this past season. And so while the initial reports may sound damning, just imagine the force of Jayron Kearse as a 6’4″ 240 lb outside linebacker. With his athleticism and experience playing in coverage there’s intriguing potential.

The remainder of the “combine Tigers” working out today were BJ Goodson, Charone Peake, and DJ Reader. Peake would run the forty again, this time improving his time to the mid 4.3’s as opposed to his 4.45 combine time. Meanwhile, Goodson went through the linebacker positional drills and was said to have performed extremely well, increasing his stock. BJ certainly appears to be one of those unappreciated sleepers having impressed at both the NFL Combine and pro day.

Others working out today included  LB Travis Blanks, DL Roderick Byers, OL Joe Gore, OL Eric Mac Lain, RB CJ Davidson, RB Zac Brooks, and LS Jim Brown. Brooks, who previously spoke about opening his interior design business, may just want to put that on temporary hold. Zac ran the forty in the mid 4.3’s to 4.4’s, had 18 reps on the 225 lb bench, and recorded a 36″ vertical. With those numbers and his hands out of the backfield, Brooks may have just secured himself an NFL tryout. Don’t sleep on the rest of the Clemson athletes either, regardless of hype and publicity. Every player from Mackensie Alexander to Jim Brown had NFL scouts from each team closely watching and observing their performance. The NFL is beginning to learn what Clemson produces and sometimes all they need is a chance. 75%.

95 NFL representatives were reported on hand in Clemson’s indoor practice facility today. Head coaches included Indianapolis’ Chuch Pagano, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis, and Buffalo’s Rex Ryan. Rave reviews around, including this from Tomlin:

All in all another rousing success for Clemson’s Pro Day, bringing in all 32 NFL teams and additional publicity to the football program. The secret is officially out:

“You’re looking for athletes? Come to Clemson, they’ve got them here.”

– NFL Network’s Draft Expert, Mike Mayock

Figure The Odds: Wofford at Clemson

Editor’s Note:  The probabilities below are derived from an algorithm developed over the last several years that includes a database of over 2,800 college football games over 4 seasons and takes into account the teams relative strengths and weaknesses and on field performance.  While in its infancy, the algorithm acquitted itself well head to head with the ESPN FPI measure during last year’s bowl season.  A version of this post appeared on SUR on July 22.  Wofford is the only game where the preseason probabilities will not change from the game week probabilities.

Typically, I wouldn’t include FCS teams in a win/loss probability analysis because they are not part of the 2,800 game database used to derive these probabilities.

However, adjustments can be made by looking at historical games to determine what 366 yards per game against an FCS schedule is likely to translate to when playing a FBS team the caliber of Clemson.  Similar adjustments were made to the defensive side for Wofford.

The Terriers gave the Tigers all they wanted in game 2 of the Chad Morris era back in 2011, when the Tigers eventually roared to an 8-0 start and have 19 starters back.  But this is a different Clemson team and, perhaps more importantly, a different Wofford team, one that hasn’t had the same success in recent seasons.


Since the time of the original post on this topic the Tigers have suffered the losses of Korrin Wiggins, D.J. Reader and Korie Rogers on defense.  That’s bound to have some effect, but the question is how much.  Because these probabilities are based on what has actually happened on the field and not what I think will happen, my probabilities will remain the same.  Since the original post ESPN FPI dropped Clemson from a 99.7 win probability to a 98.8 win probability, only .1 off of the SUR number.

With a healthy Deshaun Watson there’s no question who wins, but rather what the final score will be.  The expected points per yard gained chart published back in April suggests a score of 38-18, but again this was calculated using historical data of two FBS teams and may not exactly correlate in an FBS vs. FCS matchup.  To double check myself to an extent I also applied the 2014 Clemson yards gained per point scored and yards given up per points given up and came up with….38-18.  Many will scoff at the score (and many will be unhappy it is even close to correct), but remember a team with Sammy Watkins, Andre Ellington, Tajh Boyd and other NFLers led Wofford a mere 28-27 before scoring on the second play of the 4th quarter in a 35-27 win.


Podcast: One week from Wofford we talk DL, cupcakes, make or breaks, traps and more

I’m joined by Brad Senkiw and Brandon Rink of to talk about the loss of D.J. Reader, make or break games, potential traps and more.

You can download and subscribe via iTunes here or at the bottom of page for iTunes or Android, play in this window or play in a new window.

Podcast artwork courtesy Eargle Design.


Depth Depleted Along D-Line, but Talent to Reload Exists

VenablesOne of the biggest storylines around this year’s Clemson football team just got bigger — or thinner, depending on how you look at it.

Even before head coach Dabo Swinney’s announcement yesterday morning that Ebenezer Ogundeko had been dismissed from the football team “for a violation of team rules and behavior detrimental” to the team, it was widely known the Tigers’ defensive line depth has diminished from last season’s top-ranked defense.

Six of the eight players who received at least one start along Clemson’s defensive front a year ago have departed campus and landed on an NFL team.

The Falcons used their first- and fifth-round picks on Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett before Tavaris Barnes, Corey Crawford, Josh Watson and DeShawn Williams signed free-agent deals with the Saints, Redskins, Broncos and Bengals, respectively.

This was Ogundeko’s opening for increased playing time heading into his sophomore season, but his future at Clemson would soon evaporate after he was arrested and charged with one count of financial transaction card fraud due to his work with another person to alter the number on the magnetic strip on the back of his credit card, which multiple sources reported.

Ogundeko — a former four-star recruit from Brooklyn, N.Y., who redshirted during the 2013 season prior to playing in seven games and logging a handful of tackles last year — was carving out a more sizable role and primed to be one of the first names called as a substitution at defensive end.

“I’ve seen Ebo grow and improve,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said following Clemson’s second scrimmage of the spring on April 1. “He’s gotten better.”

“Ebo showed that he can play winning football,” Venables added after the spring game later in the month.D.J. Reader closes in on an S.C. State runner

Now without his services, and without other front-four cogs that combined for 23 of the 29 sacks the Tigers’ defensive line accounted for in 2014, Clemson doesn’t have the wealth of seasoned options at defensive end and defensive tackle that were there a season ago.

But though the team retained just three players with starting experience up front, the makeup and outlook of the expected starting unit is solid.

And behind them, there are players who have the potential to replenish the line’s depth and eventually, as they get more reps and game action, reduce the drop-off that is bound to occur when so many contributors pack up and move on.

“I think we’ll be strong up front,” Venables said following the spring game. “We’ve got to continue to develop and continue to get better in our pass rush.”

Shaq Lawson (one career start), who entered college as the No. 1 prep school prospect in the nation, has shown signs of stardom while waiting to start and is ready to break out in that role during his junior campaign. Similarly, Kevin Dodd has waited three years for his shot and will get it opposite Lawson at the other end spot.Shaq Lawson

In between them, senior D.J. Reader (four career starts) and junior Carlos Watkins (one career start) will step in as first-team tackles.

The composition of the second team and how it will be deployed is unclear, but talent is present.

One player in particular who caught the eye of Venables during the spring is defensive end Richard Yeargin III, who redshirted in 2014 after signing with Clemson as a three-star recruit from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“Richard Yeargin has really shown something,” Venables said after the Tigers’ second spring scrimmage. “He’s starting to play faster, stronger, just playing more sure of himself, getting more comfortable. He’s still got to take another step, but I’ve been pleased with some things from him, as well.”

Scott Pagano, a Hawaii native and four-star signee in the 2013 recruiting class, Jabril Robinson, a three-star member of the 2014 class, and highly touted early enrollees Albert Huggins and Sterling Johnson will battle for alignment at defensive tackle behind Reader and Watkins, who said he isn’t overwhelmed by his new task of being a leader and mentor of the young assets.

Clemson football - Scott Pagano

Clemson football – Scott Pagano

“I kind of feel (the pressure),” Watkins said during the spring, “but you know what your goal is when you’re coming in, and you know you really can’t fold under pressure because you have younger guys behind you looking up to you, you and you have to be there for them in certain ways and certain areas.”

Summer workouts and fall camp will determine the course of several freshman defensive linemen, including five-star tackle Christian Wilkins and four-star ends Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell, and whether they will redshirt or become complimentary pieces.

Venables said in the spring that it is imperative for these players to begin their quest of restocking the defensive line by “just having a great summer in the next six months.”

“Really locking in and improving, attacking weaknesses and things of that nature,” Venables said. “I think we have a chance to be strong.”

Defensive Line – Snaps Lost and Coming Back

Defensive lines like the one Clemson sported in 2014 stem from talent, recruiting, “want to”, coaching and perhaps some patience as raw freshmen turn into seasoned vets. It’s a never ending cycle in college football and while the Tigers have pieces returning along the defensive line the losses are significant.

Many wonder who will replace Vic Beasley.  I wonder who will replace Grady Jarrett.  Undersized, undervalued and underrated, Jarrett was the heart and soul in the middle of the top rated Clemson defense.  One piece of evidence of Jarrett’s domination can be found in the number of times he was responsible for stopping an opponent on 3rd and 4th downs. DL Snaps 2014

3rd Down Stops

Perhaps one of the most over rated stats is tackles. Sure, it’s important to tackle the opponent when they have the ball, but many times defensive backs have a great number of tackles because they’re last in the line of defense. More important is who makes the tackles on third downs that stop the opponent from gaining a first down. Below are the numbers for the Georgia game.

These numbers will not equal the number of times Georgia failed on third down because (a) some passes were incomplete (no tackle) without a pass broken up and (b) a myriad of other reasons (runs out of bounds, falls down, etc).

The intent is to show who makes the tackles that stop drives.

3rd Down Stops