When you think of the cream of the crop in college football in 2021, Clemson University is always at the top of the list. Season after season, the program manufactures talented prospect after talented prospect. This draft cycle, they are all but certain on the verge of producing the top overall player, quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
The university has been fruitful for the Falcons in recent seasons, and this year should be no exception should they elect to draft from there. The university held their annual Pro Day and a few of the prospects on hand are likely on the Falcons radar when the draft begins on April 29th. Let’s recap the festivities of the day.
Clemson players participating: RBs Travis Etienne, Adam Choice, WRs Amari Rodgers, Cornell Powell, Deondre Overton, LT Jackson Carman
It was noted early that running back Travis Etienne was slightly bigger than his playing weight while at Clemson. He weighed in at 215 pounds which is roughly 15 pounds heavier than expected. Little known wideout Cornell Powell measured with a height and weight of 6’2 and 204 pounds.
With his impressive frame, Powell continues to check the boxes this offseason, and it appears his stock is on rise. Slot receiver Amari Rodgers has a slight frame for an NFL receiver (5’9 212 pounds) but his 24 reps on the bench press exercise not long ago is nothing to frown at, and is very impressive for someone expected to see time in several spots on offense.
One thing that is synonymous with the Clemson football program is speed. Etienne’s display of speed allowed him to set plenty of records for the Clemson program and the ACC. His pair of 40-yard times clocked in at 4.41 and 4.43 came as a shock to no one in attendance. Add up the speed with his bigger frame and you have an NFL back capable of playing with game-changing speed and equipped with an ideal frame. His blazing straight line speed is enticing in its own right, and he’d be an intriguing addition to Atlanta’s backfield.
Rodgers is known more for his short-area quickness and his burst instead of his long speed. His 40-time of 4.51 is good in most circles, but Rodgers is your textbook example of a player whose game speed measures better than timed speed.
Other on-field drills
Powell’s three-cone drill time of 6.93 would have been good for second amongst wide receivers at last year’s NFL Combine, charting better than 2020 receivers Jalen Raegor, Michael Pittman, and Gabriel Davis. The acceleration around the final cone showed how Powell is able build up to top speed, which is also reflected on film when you see his ability to stretch a defense as a deep threat.
The same can be said for Rodgers, who was also impressive in the three-cone and at times. Rodgers also participated in running back drills. If you studied the Clemson football program closely, you would have noticed how the team moved Rodgers in various roles on offense, something he repeated at the Senior Bowl.
We don’t know if the Falcons will draft any of these players, but they had to be intrigued by Etienne and Rodgers, at minimum. We’ll see what happens in April.