Could South Carolina’s Legette and Rattler make a mockery of pre-draft projections?

No, South Carolina does not have the can’t-miss prospect of the NFL Draft. There’s no Jadeveon Clowney or Melvin Ingram or Stephon Gilmore or Javon Kinlaw.

It’s even possible that no Gamecock will hear their name called on the first day of the NFL Draft.

But South Carolina does lay claim to two of the most intriguing prospects expected to be selected on Friday during the second and third rounds: quarterback Spencer Rattler and wide receiver Xavier Legette.

Who will take Xavier Legette?

Legette is all over the place in mock drafts. Recently, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. pushed Legette up to the first round, where he projected the Kansas City Chiefs would select the Mullins, SC native with the 32nd pick.

Others have him anywhere from early in the second round — another ESPN mock draft had him being selected by the Carolina Panthers at No. 39 — to and CBS Sports projecting that Legette could drop to the third round.

“His star shines brightest once the ball goes up,” wrote NFL Network’s Lance Zierlein, “and he’s able to use his body control, play strength and ball skills to impose his will on the coverage. He’s unlikely to become a smooth route runner, but he can handle tough catches.”

Recently, Legette let it slip that he’s met with the Carolina Panthers “four or five times,” even noting that the Panthers told Legette they’re going to take him if he’s still around at pick No. 33 (the first pick of the second round).

Where will Spencer Rattler get drafted?

Hoping to hear is name called soon after is Rattler, the former top quarterback in the country who transferred from Oklahoma to South Carolina in 2022 and became one of the best QBs in program history.

When Rattler gets drafted, he will be the first Gamecock quarterback to ever be selected in the first seven rounds of the NFL Draft.

The consensus from NFL analysts is that Rattler will hear his name called at some point during the 3rd round. A number of mocks are even in alignment on the pick, with ESPN’s Field Yates and others predicting that the Denver Broncos will select the USC quarterback with the 76th-overall pick.

“Denver’s patience at quarterback pays off here,” Yates wrote of the pick. “Rattler could certainly compete with Jarrett Stidham for the starting job right away.”

Rattler and his longtime quarterback coach Mike Giovando told The State back in December they wanted to work themselves into being one of the first five quarterbacks taken.

In that ESPN mock draft and others, Rattler is often the seventh quarterback off the board, behind Caleb Williams (Southern Cal), Jayden Daniels (LSU), JJ McCarthy (Michigan), Drake Maye (North Carolina), Bo NIx (Oregon) and Michael Penix Jr. (Washington).

Yet, Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz recently reported that Rattler “remains an intriguing prospect as a Round 2 pick. Team quarterback rankings vary, and in some cases, Rattler is ranked higher than expected.”

Wherever he gets picked, Giovando made one thing clear.

“When they get him, they’re gonna get a starter,” he told The State after Pro Day. “And if he has to go sit behind a vet for a year or two or whatever it takes, a lot of the great ones did it.”

Could other Gamecocks get drafted?

Aside from Rattler and Legette, three other USC alums were good enough draft prospects to get invited to the NFL Combine: TE Trey Knox, CB Marcellous Dial and OL Nick Gargiulo.

Trying to project day four picks in the NFL Draft is just about impossible and no pundit seems to have a clear indication that any of those three guys will hear their name called.

After analyzing seven different seven-round mock drafts, Knox (6th round to the Cincinnati Bengals), Dial (6th round to the Houston Texans) and Gargiulo (7th round to Green Bay Packers) each only came up once.

And if they don’t get drafted, that might end up being the best thing. It has become commonplace for undrafted free agents to earn more money and go to better situations than those drafted in the later rounds.