After shaky start, Clemson's Beasley a top NFL prospect

After shaky start, Clemson's Beasley a top NFL prospect

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After shaky start, Clemson's Beasley a top NFL prospect

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Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley is considered a first round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley is considered a first round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

CLEMSON – Vic Beasley always knew where he wanted to end up.

It just took him a while to get there.

Unlike several recent first-round Clemson draft picks, Beasley didn’t arrive on campus a ready-made product in 2010.

“With (C.J.) Spiller and Sammy (Watkins), it came fast,” Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney said. “They were great right out of the gate; they got off the bus and were great, whereas for Vic…it was a different journey for him.”

Beasley was at once a coup and a conundrum – a freakishly good athlete looking for a position. Was he a running back?

A linebacker?

Or perhaps a tight end?

Beasley gave them all a try, and after much experimentation and trial and error, Beasley found himself at defensive end prior to his sophomore season.

Suffice to say that he had truly found himself.

“It was just a matter of getting him on the right seat on the bus,” Swinney said.

That bus will roll to a stop Thursday night in Chicago, where Beasley is expected to be a Top 10 selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Some draft analysts have Beasley being drafted as high as No. 3 overall, many have him going No. 8 to his home state Atlanta Falcons; no one has him going lower than 13th.

“I’m excited,” said Swinney, who will be accompanying Beasley to the draft. “I told him that I’ve been to the draft twice and I’m 2-for-2 – two Top 10 guys – so don’t screw it up. So the pressure’s on him.”

Then Swinney gets serious.

“He won’t have to wait too long,” Swinney said. “His name will be called pretty early and it’s going to be a great moment to just be a part of it.”

Many draft experts believe that Beasley could be snapped up by the Falcons, and that would suit the former standout at Adairsville (Ga.) High just fine.

The Falcons’ new coach, Dan Quinn, is bullish on pass rushers, and the Falcons are in dire need of an edge rusher.

“I grew up a Falcons fan, so I would love to play for them,” Beasley said. “But wherever I end up, I’m going to do my best for that team.”

To say Beasley flourished at Clemson would be a gross understatement. A 6-foot-3, 246 pounder, he was a two-time first-team All-American for the Tigers.

He accumulated a school-record 33 sacks and 52.5 tackles for loss and was named the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Beasley certainly could have jumped to the professional ranks a year ago, but listened to his parents, including his father, Victor, who played football at Auburn in the early 1980s.

“Growing up, my mom and dad always pushed academics,” Beasley said. “No one in our house had ever gotten a college degree and I wanted to be the first to do that. That was my main goal.”

With a degree in his back pocket, Beasley can now embrace his professional future. A quiet, soft-spoken guy to be such an attention-generator on the field, Beasley lets his actions speak volumes.

Beasley blew away scouts at the recent NFL Combine in Indianapolis with an off-the-charts performance that included a 4.53 clocking in the 40-yard dash, a 41-inch vertical leap and a remarkable 33 bench press repetitions with 225 pounds.

“There wasn’t a single category in which Beasley wasn’t among the top performers at his position, and when you can point to the production he had at Clemson – 44.5 tackles TFL over the last two seasons – you can build a pretty good case to draft him inside the Top 10,” said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. “Beasley is a better fit as an outside linebacker, but I don’t think he’s a guy you have to take with a perfect system in mind, as the physical tools are there for him to adjust and succeed.”

When he’s selected, he’ll become the 25th Clemson player chosen in the first round of the draft and give the Tigers a first-round selection for a third consecutive year, marking just the second time that has happened in school history.

DeAndre Hopkins was the No. 27 pick by the Houston Texans in 2013 and Watkins was the No. 4 pick by the Buffalo Bills last year.

But again, they were ready to go when they made their freshmen debuts at Clemson.

Beasley’s road to success proved to be a different journey, but no less rewarding.

“I’m so proud of him because I know how far he’s come and he deserves all the credit because of the work he’s put in,” Swinney said. “At the end of the day, the destination is the same. It’s all about getting there.”

WHERE’S BEASLEY GOING?

–No. 3, Jacksonville Jaguars: Sports Illustrated, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com, Outlads.com

–No. 5, Washington Redskins: Dan Jeremiah of NFL.com, Walter Football, Dave Brugler of CBSports.com, Pete Prisco of CBSports.com

–No. 6, New York Jets: Charley Casserly of NFL.com, NFL Draft Geek.com, Comcast Sportsnet, Will Brinson of CBSports.com

–No. 8, Atlanta Falcons: Charles Davis of NFL.com, Lance Zierkein of NFL.com, NFL Nation of ESPN.com, Mel Kiper of ESPN, BleacherReport.com, Mynfldraft.com, Peter King of Sports Illustrated*

–No. 13, New Orleans Saints: Brian Baldinger of NFL.com, Todd McShay of ESPN, Rob Rang of CBS Sports, Josh Norris of NBC Sports

*Has Beasley drafted by Washington in a trade

CLEMSON DRAFT PROSPECTS

Vic Beasley, DE, 6-3, 246, Round 1

Grady Jarrett, DT, 6-1, 304, Round 2

Stephone Anthony, LB, 6-3, 243, Round 2

Corey Crawford, DE, 6-5, 299, Round 6

Garry Peters, CB, 6-0, 191, Round 7/FA

Tavaris Barnes, DE, 6-4, 282, Round 7/FA

FREE AGENT PROSPECTS

Bradley Pinion, P, 6-5, 229

Tony Steward, LB, FA, 6-1, 241

DeShawn Williams, DT, 6-0, 303

Josh Watson, DT, 6-4, 298

Robert Smith, S, 5-10, 204

David Beasley, OL, 6-4, 340

Kalon Davis, OL, 6-5, 325

Adam Humphries, WR, 5-10, 194

Cole Stoudt, QB, 6-5, 218

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