NFL Draft Day 2: #Gamecocks with two off the board; third #Clemson player picked

Day two of the NFL Draft in Kansas City encompassed rounds two and three and included the first two players from USC being selected. cornerback Cam Smith was chosen with the 20th pick of the second round by Miami. Gamecock defensive tackle Zacch Pickens was the first player taken in the third round by Chicago.

Clemson, who had two first round picks on Thursday, had a third defensive player selected on Friday with linebacker Trenton Simpson coming off the board with the 23rd pick of the third round.

The Draft concludes on Saturday afternoon with rounds 4-7.

From USC on Smith:

Smith, who measured in at 6-0 5/8 and 183 pounds on the Gamecocks’ Pro Timing Day, collected 91 career tackles and six interceptions while breaking up 18 passes in 33 games, including 19 starts for the Gamecocks. Prior to his senior season, the Blythewood, S.C. product was named to numerous All-America and All-SEC teams, and was on the 2022 preseason Thorpe, Nagurski and Bednarik Award watch lists. He earned post-season second-team All-SEC honors in 2022 from Phil Steele after being named second team All-SEC by the Associated Press in 2021. Smith was the first Gamecock defensive back drafted since cornerback Jaycee Horn went to the Carolina Panthers and safety Israel Mukuamu was picked by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2021 draft. He was the first Gamecock selected by the Dolphins since Corey Jenkins was taken in the sixth round of the 2003 draft. The Gamecocks have now had a player selected in 21 of the last 22 NFL Drafts. Smith becomes the 32nd Carolina defensive back selected all-time, with 17 taken since 2002.

From USC on Pickens:

The highly decorated Pickens, who measured in at 6-3 5/8 and 298 pounds on the Gamecocks’ Pro Timing Day, was voted the team’s Most Outstanding Senior, the Joe Morrison Award winner as the MVP of the defense, the Steve Wadiak Team MVP Award winner and was one of five players presented with the Rex Enright Team Captains’ Award following the 2022 season. He started all 12 regular season games and was credited with 42 tackles with 4.0 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. For his career, Pickens, a native of Anderson, S.C., appeared in 47 games with 32 starts. A four-year letterwinner, he collected 131 career tackles including 11.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. Pickens was the first Gamecock defensive tackle drafted since Javon Kinlaw went to the San Francisco 49ers in 2020. He was the first player selected by the Bears since Alshon Jeffery was taken in the second round of the 2012 draft.

From Clemson on Simpson:

  • Simpson became the 74th player in Dabo Swinney’s head coaching tenure to be drafted into the NFL, including the eighth third-round pick of Swinney’s tenure.
  • Simpson became the 31st Clemson linebacker selected in the Common Draft era and the seventh Clemson linebacker selected since 2015.
  • Simpson became the first Clemson player selected by the Ravens in franchise history. 
  • Simpson became the first Clemson player selected by a Baltimore-based franchise since the Baltimore Colts selected C Tony Berryhill in the ninth round of the 1982 NFL Draft.
  • Simpson became the second Clemson player ever drafted with the No. 86 overall pick, joining CB Dexter Davis (1991).
  • Simpson was the fifth consecutive Clemson defensive player selected in an NFL Draft across the 2022-23 drafts. The five straight defensive picks have come following the 2021 NFL Draft in which all five of Clemson’s picks came from the offensive side of the ball.

Two other players with state ties, and teammates at Tennessee, were drafted on Friday. Wide receiver Jalen Hyatt of Dutch Fork was the tenth pick of round three by the Giants, and defensive tackle Byron Young of Carvers Bay went four picks later to the Rams.

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