CLEMSON, S.C. — Since Dabo Swinney took over the Clemson Football Program in 2008, there have been more players drafted than in any other era in Clemson history.
Those numbers should grow this week as the 2022 NFL Draft kicks off Thursday at 8 p.m. ESPN, ABC and the NFL Network will carry the event, which will be held live in Las Vegas.
Under Swinney, 69 former Tigers have been selected in the draft, the second most of any coach in the country since 2009.
This year, as many as six former Tigers could hear their name called, starting with cornerback Andrew Booth. The All-ACC corner is expected by most to be selected in the late first round between 20 and 32. If he does not go in the first round, then he will most definitely be off the board in the second round.
Clemson has produced at least one first-round pick in eight of the last nine NFL Drafts. It’s one of only three schools—joining Alabama and Florida—that can make such a claim.
After Booth, it is anyone’s guess as to who will be chosen next from Clemson. Wide receiver Justyn Ross and cornerback Mario Goodrich are two former Tigers who could have their name called next in the draft. Both have a slight shot to be selected on Day 2, but the more likely scenario will see the two go on Day 3 of the draft.
Linebacker Baylon Spector could also be drafted on Day 3 (rounds 4-7), while safety Nolan Turner might also sneak into the draft in the later rounds. Linebacker James Skalski is likely to be an undrafted free agent.
What NFL teams are thinking about Ross is a mystery. Before he was forced to have spinal surgery two years ago due to a congenital fusion, the Alabama native seemed like a surefire first-round pick. But this past season did not go as he had hoped, and then a foot injury caused him to miss the last three games of the season.
Goodrich was moving up the draft boards after he ended the 2021 season strong, including being named the MVP in Clemson’s Cheez-It Bowl victory over Iowa State. However, he broke a rib during practice in the Senior Bowl and then became sick the night before the NFL Scouting Combine, which effected his performance and his weight.
He bounced back a little at Clemson’s Pro Day on March 17, but his stock has stayed about where it was at the end of the year.
Spector tested well at the NFL Scouting Combine and at Clemson’s Pro Day, but he is still considered a late-round selection by most analyst.
Turner made the most of Pro Day and put himself in position to be drafted. A lot of teams like him because he is a ready-to-play-guy, but only a few could possibly take a chance with him in the draft. The most likely, if he is drafted, appears to be the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As for Skalski, he could still be drafted, but it will have to be by a team who is willing to gamble on the two-time Clemson captain. Whoever signs him, they will get a player who can be a great asset on special teams.