West Virginia-Clemson may be the worst Orange Bowl matchup in Orange Bowl history, but fear not, there are plenty of solid NFL prospects to keep your eye on. Most if not all of these players will hear their names called in the first two days of the 2012 draft. Here are the five top pro prospects eligible for next year’s draft.
5. Keith Tandy, CB, West Virginia
In his last three seasons at WVU, Keith Tandy picked off 12 interceptions. His 5’10”, 199-pound frame isn’t a strength, but it’s not a weakness either. He will most likely come off the board in the third or fourth round.
4. Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
The 6’4”, 255-pound junior definitely possesses the size to make it at the next level. Dwayne Allen also has the talent, though, as he brought down 48 receptions for 577 yards and eight touchdowns this season. He is a second-round prospect and could develop into a beast of a red-zone threat at the next level.
3. Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson
Brandon Thompson is kind of a big deal at 6’2”, 310 pounds. He projects as a 4-3 defensive tackle only and is expected to go off the board early-second to late-first round. His stats don’t pop out at you because he demands a double team.
2. Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia
Right now, National Football Post is ranking Bruce Irvin as the top outside linebacker prospect in the nation and is saying that he possesses Von Miller-like athletic ability. That is high praise for the 6’3”, 245-pound pass-rushing fiend. Going into the Orange Bowl, Irvin recorded 21.5 sacks in his last two seasons at WVU and looks like a second-round prospect.
1. Andre Branch, DE, Clemson
Clemson fans didn’t end up missing Da’Quan Bowers that long as Andre Branch blew up for 10.5 sacks this season. He is the prototypical 4-3 defensive end at 6’5”, 260 pounds with 4.7-speed. Branch is guaranteed to hear his name called in the first two rounds and if he works out great, he’ll be a first-round lock.
David Daniels is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.