College Football 2009 NFP Scouting Series: Clemson Tigers

Dale ThortonCorrespondent IJuly 21, 2009

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 31:  C.J. Spiller #28 of the Clemson University Tigers is tripped by Walter McFadden #6 of the Auburn University Tigers during the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on December 31, 2007 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. Auburn defeated Clemson 23-20 in overtime.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

This summer, the National Football Post is breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who might warrant interest from NFL teams in the 2010 draft.

The Clemson Tigers failed to live up to expectations a year ago, but they return an impressive group of prospects on both sides of the ball and certainly have the talent to compete for an ACC title in 2009.


C.J. Spiller: No. 28, RB, 5-11, 195

Displays great vision and patience at the line of scrimmage with the burst to explode into daylight. Does a nice job feeling out his blocks and picking his way through the line of scrimmage. Possesses the lateral agility and footwork to consistently make the first man miss and does a good job changing directions at full speed.

Gets up to speed quickly and exhibits a real second gear in the open field. Lacks ideal girth and isn’t a guy who can carry the load at the next level, but he does a nice job lowering his pad level on contact and not absorbing many big hits. Has that “it” factor as a runner and is very instinctive in all areas of his game.

Is also a gifted receiver who possesses the ability to turn his routes up the field and make plays vertically. Catches the ball well out of the backfield and looks natural in the pass game.

Impression: A jack-of-all-trades who can hurt you through the air or on the ground. Looks like a real playmaker at the next level and reminds me a bit of Cowboys RB Felix Jones.

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Jacoby Ford: No. 6, WR, 5-10, 186

A two-stepper who simply plays at another gear compared to everyone else on the field. Gets out of his stance quickly and possesses the straight-line speed to consistently threaten secondaries deep. Tracks the football well while it’s in the air and is very difficult to overthrow. Showcases the wiggle to avoid press coverage off the line and gets into his routes quickly.

Demonstrates good instincts in the pass game and knows how to find soft spots in zone coverage. Exhibits the body control to drive defenders up the field and settle down into pockets underneath. Is very slippery with the ball in his hands and does a great job making a man miss with his jump-cut and getting back up to speed instantly.

Is still developing as a route runner and at times seems to be playing too fast for his own good. Gets sloppy out of his breaks and needs to learn how to change gears in order to set up defensive backs more efficiently.

Impression: Has all the tools to consistently separate from corners at the next level and is a big-play threat every time he touches the ball.

Thomas Austin: No. 65, C/G, 6-3, 315

Does a good job firing off the ball and getting into opposing linemen quickly. However, the longer he’s forced to say on a block, the higher his pad level gets. Has the base strength to create movement in the run game, but lacks the body control to stay on blocks and completely seal them away from the play. Isn’t real fluid on the move and ends up on the ground far too much when asked to slide-down block.

Displays fluid footwork in pass protection and possesses the coordination to redirect laterally in space. However, he isn’t as powerful as his frame would indicate and can be walked backward at the point of attack. Does a nice job extending his arms and keeping opposing linemen off his frame, but isn’t much of a Velcro player and looks content to hand defenders off to his guards rather than staying on the block.

Impression: Does enough things well in both the run and pass game to generate interest from NFL teams, but isn’t anything to get excited about.

Cory Lambert: No. 76, OT, 6-6, 312

A waist bender who lacks flexibility in his lower half and has a tendency to drop his head down on contact. Gets really wide with his footwork in pass protection and is unable to redirect with any kind of fluidity. Consistently lunges into linemen due to his lack of athleticism and relies on his upper body strength to stay on blocks.

Possesses a thickly built upper body with a thin lower half and plays top-heavy in all areas of his game. Lacks the body control to move his feet and remain balanced through contact. Struggles keeping his base down and generating power from his lower half as an in-line run blocker.

Impression: Lacks the footwork and flexibility to warrant much consideration from NFL scouts.


Ricky Sapp: No. 7, OLB/DE, 6-4, 245

A flexible defensive lineman who showcases a good first step out of his stance with the ability to drop his pad level and quickly change directions. Is very sudden and exhibits the lateral quickness to instantly cross the face of an opposing linemen and get after the QB. Gets a bit overextended at times when trying to redirect, but possesses the body control to quickly recover.

Lacks ideal girth in his lower half and struggles dealing with any kind of additional attention in the run game. However, he displays a much stronger punch than given credit for and has the length to keep blockers from getting into his frame. Is extremely explosive when asked to slip blocks on the edge and closes very quickly on the ball carrier.

Demonstrates the fluidity to play in space and looks natural dropping off vs. the pass game and assuming a role in zone coverage.

Impression: An ideal 3-4 OLB at the next level who certainly has the skill set to create pressure off the edge.

Kavell Conner: No. 33, OLB, 6-1, 232

A good athlete who showcases the range to consistently track the football sideline to sideline. Does a nice job slipping blocks at the line of scrimmage, but at times will take himself out of plays and open holes around him. Lacks overall awareness and gets caught ball-watching when trying to diagnose plays. Has a tendency to bite on play fakes and doesn’t possess a great feel for the game.

Doesn’t consistently take proper angles toward the play and isn’t the most secure of tacklers. Lacks ideal power in his upper body and has a tendency to bounce off ball carriers when working in pursuit.

Impression: Displays good range, but doesn’t make the amount of plays his athletic tools would indicate due to a lack of instincts and awareness.

Chris Chancellor: No. 38, CB, 5-10, 173

A gritty, undersized corner who showcases a good motor and works hard vs. the run game. Possesses a really wide stance in off-coverage and likes to side-saddle his way down the field while keeping receivers in front of him. Struggles staying compact with his footwork and is slow to break down and close on the play.

However, he looks natural when asked to flip his hips and run with receivers down the field. Does a nice job angling wideouts toward the sideline and tracking the football over his head. Showcases good vertical explosion and does a nice job high-pointing the football and breaking up the pass.

Impression: Is erratic with his footwork but possesses the ball skills and range to find a role as a zone corner at the next level.

Crezdon Butler: No. 18, CB, 6-0, 185

Displays good flexibility in his drop and does a great job keeping his feet under him and cleanly flipping his hips. Is a gifted straight-line athlete who has the ability to get up to speed quickly and run with receivers down the field. However, he struggles locating the ball and is very uncomfortable with his back to the play. Is tough to separate from, but lacks the body control to consistently stay balanced when adjusting to the play.

Struggles vs. the run game and doesn’t showcase much of a willingness to consistently stick his head into the play. Takes bad angles toward the ball and isn’t real physical when asked to shed blocks.

Impression: A gifted athlete who has the tools to really entice scouts, but lacks confidence and body control when playing with his back to the play.

Be sure to check out the rest of my breakdowns at Nationalfootballpost.com.

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