NFL Draft Recap: #Gamecocks lead the state with three selections

Clemson had the first player selected from the state in this year’s NFL Draft, but USC had the most players taken with three. The Tigers and Coastal Carolina each had two players drafted and South Carolina State had one player taken. And following the draft, several players with state ties signed free agent contracts. Here’s a recap of how the three-day selection meeting in Las Vegas impacted the Palmetto State programs. (Slide pictures left or right to see full gallery)

Clemson Players Drafted

CB Andrew Booth, Vikings with 10th pick of round 2, #42 overall scouting report: A press/zone combo corner with good size and length, Booth plays with an urgent, competitive nature. He has the strength, balance and foot agility to press and slow the release. He has limited starting experience, though. He will need more development to prevent route specialists from manipulating his feet and hips. Booth has the ball-tracking and play strength to find and maintain top-dog positioning through catch tries. He’s more effective in off coverage underneath than tight man. He needs to play more football, but his ball-hawking instincts, burst to close and toughness in run support will be very appealing for zone teams looking for an upgrade at cornerback.

LB Baylon Spector, Bills with 7th pick of round 7, #231 overall scouting report: Reliable worker-bee linebacker who plays with impressive instincts and fundamentals that keep him in position and near the action. Spector is an average athlete with average size, but he struggles to attack and unglue from blocks on a consistent enough basis. He’s an excellent finisher when facing down runners in the hole, but average length and agility drop his finishing rate substantially when he’s forced to tackle on the move. Spector is rock solid but won’t make plays beyond what is expected. He has backup value as an inside linebacker or 4-3 Will.

Clemson Free Agent Signees

  • CB Mario Goodrich with the Eagles
  • SAF Nolan Turner with the Bucs
  • LB James Skalski with the Colts
  • WR Justyn Ross with the Chiefs

USC Players Drafted

LB Kingsley (JJ) Enagbare, 36th pick of round 5, #179 overall scouting report: Enagbare is long and strong but lacks explosiveness, which could create diverging opinions regarding his position and how best to play him. He’s heavy-handed and physical but will never be confused for a playmaker on the edge. He’s best suited as a cubicle defender where his power and length can benefit him in smaller spaces. He has played heavier in the past and teams might ask him to pack the pounds back on in order to compete as a run-defending interior lineman in an odd or even front.

RB Kevin Harris, 4th pick of round 6, #183 overall scouting report: Big, bruising runner with good vision and the self-awareness to understand that power running is what will butter his bread. His 2021 productivity fell off from 2020, due in part to health issues, shared carries and average South Carolina run blocking. He creates for himself with contact and tackle-breaking talent, but typically drops and finishes against an open-field tackler rather than avoiding him. He’s a chain mover with excellent ball security as a battering ram inside. He will be limited as an outside runner and needs to come off the field on passing downs. Harris has talent and his impressive 2020 was no mirage. He’s a good Day 3 option for teams looking to upgrade their power.

TE Nick Muse, 6th pick of round 7, #227 overall scouting report: Athletic tight end with good size and the ability to be flexed around formations. Muse is a willing run blocker at the point of attack and has the body control and agility to handle move-blocking duties with some success. He’s average at uncovering within the route but lacks the length and hand talent to consistently win contested catch battles.

USC Free Agent Signees

  • RB ZaQuandre White with the Dolphins
  • DL Jabari Ellis with the Giants

Coastal Carolina Players Drafted

TE Isaiah Likely, 4th pick of round 4, #139 overall scouting report: Tight end prospect with an intangibles profile and positional traits that make him projectable to the next level. Likely was a winner in high school and played a pivotal role in the ascension of Coastal Carolina over the past two seasons. He lacks a prototypical tight end frame and is an inconsistent blocker, but he runs well and filled up his career stat sheet with big plays. It could take Likely a year or two to find his footing against stronger, faster coverage, but he has the tools to uncover against NFL coverage as an “F” tight end.

DE Jeffrey Gunter, 31st pick of round 7, #252 overall scouting report: Athletic edge defender who is much more talented as a rusher than run defender. Gunter lacks the functional anchor and scrappiness to battle through contact and come out on the other side. He has the athletic ability and motor to harass the pocket, but needs to get stronger to open more rush doors in the future. Gunter has Day 3 potential as a backup 3-4 rush linebacker in a blitzing and gaming-based front.

Coastal Carolina Free Agent Signees

  • RB Shemari Jones with the Bengals
  • LB Silas Kelly with the Browns
  • WR Jaivon Heiligh with the Bengals
  • RB Shermari Jones with the Bengals
  • DT C.J. Brewer, Jets-Mini-Camp Invite
  • WR Kameron Brown, Buccaneers-Mini-Camp Invite
  • CB Derick Bush, Bears-Mini-Camp Invite
  • SAF Alex Spillum, Packers-Mini-Camp Invite
  • LB Kendricks Gladney, Chargers-Mini-Camp Invite

SC State Player Drafted

CB Decobie Durant, 37th pick of round 4, #142 overall scouting report: Durant might be undersized, but he plays with tremendous confidence and competitiveness. He will have issues against bigger slot targets from time to time but proved his ability against receivers of all sizes against Clemson. He plays with good foot quickness and above-average ball skills to attack the throw. He’ll be targeted in run support so he will need to be used judiciously. Durant profiles as a late Day 3 selection due to his size, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him outperform his draft slotting.

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