No ACC team has more wins than the 21 that the Clemson Tigers have registered over the past two seasons, which is tied with the Florida State Seminoles for the most in the conference. The Tigers lost wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and running back Andre Ellington to the 2013 NFL Draft, but there is a strong cast in place to make up for the production they will lose with three notable 2014 NFL Draft prospects ready to lead the way this season.
BCS Championship Odds: +2,200
Notable Prospect #1: WR Sammy Watkins – Junior
The majority of college football experts would have the senior quarterback Tajh Boyd listed as the top prospect for Clemson heading in to this season, but Watkins has the type of flash and big-play ability to make him the highest pick off the board for the Tigers in 2014. Watkins failed to match the numbers he put up during an incredible freshman campaign, but he is primed to bounce back as a junior and if he does there is no reason to think he won’t be drafted in the first round. A tall, strong receiver that is still filling out, Watkins has the type of elite speed that NFL teams are looking for to stretch the field vertically and make the highlight reel plays. Watkins also has excellent body control and the ability to go up and fight for jump balls, which will make him a tremendous asset to Boyd in the Clemson offense this year. Consistency will be the key for Watkins this coming season, and if he can play to his potential there is no reason at all to think he won’t be taken in the opening round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Notable Prospect #2: QB Tajh Boyd – Senior
It’s hard to bounce the reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Year out of the top spot in terms of NFL Draft prospects, but Boyd still has some work to do to become an elite quarterback prospect. He has already set ACC records for touchdowns in a single game, touchdowns in a season, and is the type of dual-threat that has become all of the rage in the NFL since Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick made their marks. However, Boyd needs to do a much better job avoiding getting locked in on a single target and letting his eyes and body tell opposing defenses where he is going to throw the ball. This year could be more challenging for Boyd without Hopkins, but it could be a blessing in disguise if it forces him to spread the ball around and do a better job of cycling through his options.
Notable Prospect #3: DE Vic Beasley – Junior
Malliciah Goodman is the only piece that the Clemson defense has lost from its front-seven, but they could actually be upgrading at the position with junior defensive end Vic Beasley poised for a big year. Beasley came out of nowhere to register eight sacks in limited snaps a year ago, and will get every opportunity to show off his pass-rush skills with more playing time this year. A big, strong end that has the speed to close in a hurry, Beasley has a good chance to hit the 10-sack mark and that will provide a huge boost to his 2014 NFL Draft stock.
Click here to get a full list of NCAAF futures for the 2013-14 NCAAF season.