While the NFL will have to wait another season for quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, this year's group of Clemson players still boasts some impressive pro prospects. Leading the way is wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who improved his 40-yard dash time and looked impressive catching the ball during drills.
Hopkins ran a 4.57 at the combine but improved that number on Thursday with times in the 4.4's and low 4.5's. As expected, he stood out during catching drills, receiving passes from former quarterback and Clemson assistant Joe Craddock. Hopkins did nothing to hurt his chances of being one of the first wide receivers off the board, possibly in the top 32 picks.
“Big improvement from 4.57,” Hopkins said after his workout. “I've been making big strides to improve.”
Defensive end Malliciah Goodman turned in a 4.87 40-yard dash time at the combine but improved that number with runs in the mid-4.6 range. He also improved his vertical (33”) and broad jump (9'9”) numbers from the combine. At 6-4 and 276 pounds with 36.5-inch arm length, Goodman passes the eye test. With some NFL coaching, his best football might be ahead of him.
Arguably the top senior running back in this draft class, Andre Ellington pulled up during his 40-yard dash (4.61) at the combine and is still nursing that hamstring, which kept him sidelined during the Tigers pro day. He plans on running for scouts on March 29.
Other notes from Clemson's pro day:
- Wide receiver Jaron Brown was easily overlooked next to Watkins and Hopkins on Clemson's offense, but he stood out to scouts during agility drills on Thursday. His 40-yard dash was clocked in the 4.3-4.4 range, adding a 35.5-inch vertical, 10'4” broad jump and 17 reps on the bench press. Brown also did well catching the ball with several impressive grabs, using his large hands to make snags away from his body. Thursday's workout alone might put him in the late round range for some teams.
- Although he had big shoes to fill this season replacing Dwayne Allen, tight end Brandon Ford finished third on the team with career-bests in catches (40), receiving yards (480) and scores (8). And he kept that momentum going during his workouts with his 40-yard dash in the mid-4.7's while looking fluid and natural in his routes. Ford also added nearly 10 pounds of muscle, weighing in at 245 and admitting he needed to bulk up for the draft process.
- A surprising snub from the combine, center Dalton Freeman looked good at the Tigers' pro day, weighing in at 291 pounds. He performed well in the 40-yard dash (4.88), bench press (34), vertical jump (32”), broad jump (9'6”), 3-cone drill (7.60) and short shuttle (4.50).