South Carolina Football: 2014 NFL Draft Tracker, Analysis and Results
South Carolina has several interesting draft prospects, but none has garnered the attention anywhere near that of defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
The potential No. 1 pick, he has been perhaps the most talked-about prospect in this year's class.
He'll be joined by fellow defensive lineman Kelcy Quarles, as well as two talented offensive players.
Bruce Ellington is a likely mid-round pick at receiver, while the Gamecocks' offensive leader Connor Shaw should be snatched up late.
We'll look at the draft potential for each of those players, and on draft day, we'll provide updates as to where these USC standouts end up and how they might develop in their pro systems.
DE Jadeveon Clowney
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 1 to Houston
Weight: 266 pounds
Analysis: As many experts predicted—going back even before last year's draft—Jadeveon Clowney went No. 1 overall to the Houston Texans. He'll join J.J. Watt to form an incredible defensive front. He won't solve all of Houston's problems, but pass rush shouldn't be an issue. He's a freak athlete, and he'll contribute immediately.
Replacement: Not only has South Carolina lost Jadeveon Clowney, but the Gamecocks must also replace defensive linemen Kelcy Quarles and Chaz Sutton. It is likely that USC will use several players to do this, but at end, it will lean on Gerald Dixon and Darius English. Neither has the athletic prowess of Clowney, but the South Carolina defensive front will still reload with plenty of size and athleticism next year.
WR Bruce Ellington
Drafted: Round 4, Pick 106 to San Francisco
Weight: 197 pounds
Analysis: Bruce Ellington is entering a great situation in San Francisco. He fell back further than expected, but he won't mind joining a Super Bowl contending team right away. The 49ers are making a clear commitment to adding offensive playmakers this offseason, and Ellington has the potential to develop into a great slot receiver.
Replacement: While Shaq Roland and Damiere Byrd will assume their starting roles and anchor the receiving corps, South Carolina will replace Bruce Ellington with Pharoh Cooper. Cooper is a versatile athlete, who had a passing, receiving and rushing touchdown a year ago.
DT Kelcy Quarles
Matt Miller Draft Projection: Round 5, Pick 171 to Denver
Weight: 297 pounds
Stat Line: 39 TAK, 13.5 TFL, 9.5 SACK, 1 PBU, 3 QBH, 1 FR
South Carolina DT Kelcy Quarles' stats jump off the page, but those eye-popping numbers aren't necessarily a positive. Many will (rightfully) point to Jadeveon Clowney's constant attention as the reason that Quarles had more playmaking opportunities. Still, the Gamecocks defender is a solid draft candidate. He'll need to develop physically and technically before he can be a force in the NFL.
Ricky Henne of Chargers.com wrote:
Quarles has the desired measurable for a defensive tackle at 6-4, 297 pounds. He is naturally strong and heavy handed, able to beat offensive linemen with sheer force. He fires off the ball extremely fast and constantly flocks to the ball carrier. Quarles is also a punishing tackler who at the next level projects as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense or an end in the 3-4.
There are some who say Quarles could have used another year of seasoning at South Carolina, especially as it would have been his defense with the departure of Clowney. Still, by drawing comparisons to the likes of Lamarr Houston and other effective linemen, it’s certainly understandable why Quarles chose to make the leap to the NFL at this point in time.
QB Connor Shaw
Matt Miller Draft Projection: Round 7, Pick 219 to Oakland
Weight: 206 pounds
Stat Line: 63.4 PCT, 2,447 YDS, 24 TD, 1 INT, 154 CAR, 558 YDS, 6 TD
Connor Shaw was a fantastic collegiate quarterback for South Carolina, guiding the Gamecocks to a 25-7 record as a starter. While he threw just one pick in his senior season, his skill set might not translate to the professional level. He's undersized and lacks an NFL-caliber arm, but his toughness, work ethic and attitude indicate that he can bring a positive presence to the locker room and the quarterback position.
Here's NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki's scouting report:
Lacks prototype measurements and arm talent and played in a high-percentage, dink-and-dunk passing game that has not translated well to the pros, yet possesses the intangibles, toughness, football intelligence and escapability to warrant developing. Is the type of player you root for and has make-it qualities that could eventually surprise. Potentially adds situational value.
CB Victor Hampton
Matt Miller Draft Projection: Undrafted
Weight: 197 pounds
Stat Line: 51 TAK, 5 TFL, 3 INT, 9 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR
Looking solely at physical ability, Vic Hampton is a strong defensive back candidate who could be molded into a corner or safety. He has some great playmaking ability and the strength to make his short stature less of an issue. However, his character issues have many teams shying away from him and others ignoring him completely. We have seen cases like his before, but despite off-the-field issues, it seems likely that a team will look at his skill set and take a chance on drafting him.
Prior to Hampton's recent run-ins with the law, NFL draft experts were pegging him as high an early second-round pick and as low as a third-round selection. Hampton now figures to have fallen into fourth- or fifth-round territory, or potentially lower. It's also very likely that during the pre-draft visitation process, Hampton has had the chance to meet privately with higher-ranked executives to explain his past. After these meetings, teams are given the chance to know the prospects on a more personal level and might be willing to accept the past decisions and trust that the maturation process will come as his career progresses.