Anybody who watched Clemson in recent years knows how good the Tigers were along the defensive line.
The NFL felt the same way.
By the 15th pick of the fourth round of the 2019 NFL draft, Clemson’s entire starting defensive line was off the board. Three went in the first round. Clelin Ferrell was selected No. 4 overall by the Oakland Raiders. Christian Wilkins went No. 13 overall to the Miami Dolphins. Four picks later, Dexter Lawrence was chosen by the New York Giants at No. 17 overall. On Saturday, Austin Bryant was selected No. 117 overall by the Detroit Lions.
The NFL clearly valued such a productive group, and it’s easy to understand why. The Tigers won two national titles in three seasons with the defensive line as the standout unit on the team.
Ferrell, a defensive end, totaled 50.5 tackles for loss and 27 sacks in three seasons. Wilkins, a versatile tackle, combined for 40.5 tackles for loss and 16 sacks at Clemson. Lawrence, a 340-pound behemoth, is a space-eating tackle who had 131 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in three seasons. Bryant, the least heralded of the group, was no slouch. A four-year contributor and two-year starter, combined for 95 tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss and 17 sacks in 2017 and 2018.
Another Clemson defender, cornerback Trayvon Mullen, went in the second round, No. 40 overall, to the Oakland Raiders. On offense, slot receiver — and national championship hero — Hunter Renfrow went in the fifth round, also to the Raiders.
A fifth defensive lineman, Albert Huggins, could be drafted before day’s end.
4/5 of Oklahoma’s offensive line chosen
Not to be outdone by Clemson, the 2019 draft was also full of Oklahoma players. We all know about quarterback Kyler Murray (No. 1 to Arizona) and receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (No. 25 to Baltimore), but those two were enabled to shine because of the Sooners’ excellent offensive line — the best O-line in college football in 2018.
Four of Oklahoma’s five starting linemen were selected between the second and fourth round, beginning with tackle Cody Ford going No. 38 overall to the Buffalo Bills.
Late in the third round, Bobby Evans, another tackle, was selected No. 97 overall by the Los Angeles Rams. And then in the fourth round, guards Dru Samia and Ben Powers were chosen at picks 114 and 123, respectively, with Samia headed to the Minnesota Vikings and Powers to the Baltimore Ravens.
The fifth member of OU’s line, center Creed Humphrey, was just a redshirt freshman in 2018. He could be selected higher than any of his Sooner teammates once he’s eligible. He’s that good.
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