Clowney, Watkins poised to make Palmetto State history

clowney-boydThursday night’s opening round of the NFL Draft looks to be a historic one for the Palmetto State. According to most draft projections, South Carolina and Clemson will both have top-five picks for the first time.

Former South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is widely considered the No. 1 overall selection, followed closely by former Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. He is projected to have his name called in the next two to four picks, depending on which experts you trust.

With trade talks circling around both players as teams try to move up to acquire their services, Clowney and Watkins stand to give their respective schools their highest draft picks ever.

Clowney can become the Gamecocks’ second No. 1 overall pick, tying Heisman Trophy-winning running back George Rogers. He was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the first pick in the 1981 draft.

If Watkins is selected third or higher, he would become the Tigers’ highest pick ever. The late Gaines Adams was picked No. 4 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2007 draft. Two-sport legend Banks McFadden was the No. 4 pick of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940 Major League Baseball draft.

Regardless of the order, Clowney and Watkins will most certainly represent the highest combined draft picks for the rival schools. Only three times in NFL Draft history have both schools had players selected in the first round: In 2006, Clemson defensive back Tye Hill (No. 15, Green Bay) and USC defensive back Jonathan Joseph (No. 24, Cincinnati). In 1993, Clemson linebacker Wayne Simmons (No. 15, Green Bay) and USC lineman Ernest Dye (No. 18). In 1979, Clemson wide receiver Jerry Butler (No. 5, Buffalo) and USC defensive back Rick Sanford (No. 25, New England).

Photo courtesy of USC Athletics

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