Clemson Football: Top NFL Prospects to Watch in Chick-Fil-a Bowl vs. LSU

Nicholas Goss@@NicholasGoss35Correspondent IDecember 31, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 22:  Andre Ellington #23 of the Clemson Tigers during their game at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 22, 2012 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Clemson has several NFL prospects who need a strong performance against LSU in the Chick-Fil-A bowl to boost their draft stock.

With many scouts and general managers watching these bowl games, top NFL prospects are under a lot of pressure to shine in their final game of the 2012 college football season.

Let's look at the top three NFL prospects that Clemson fans should pay close attention to on Monday night.


Andre Ellington, RB

The top NFL prospect on the Tigers roster is senior running back Andre Ellington, who led the team in rushing with 1,031 yards. He also had an impressive 5.1 yards per carry and eight rushing touchdowns.

Ellington is likely going to be a high second-round pick, but good performances in the Chick-Fil-A bowl and the Senior Bowl may be enough to convince teams to select him with a late first-round pick.

The lack of top running backs in the 2013 draft class could help Ellington, because a team that desperately needs a running back may be willing to take him in the first round rather than risk him not being available later in the second round.

The final two picks in the first round last season were running backs, Doug Martin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and David Wilson (New York Giants).

Both players had tremendous rookie years and proved that running backs taken at the end of the first round can be very productive in their first NFL season.


DeAndre Hopkins, WR

Many people expected Clemson star Sammy Watkins to be the Tigers' No. 1 wide receiver this year, but DeAndre Hopkins finished the regular season as the team's leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Hopkins caught 69 passes for 1,214 yards with 16 touchdown catches. Thanks to a breakout year, he has emerged as one of the best wide receiver prospects in this year's draft class and a likely first-round pick.

Hopkins failed to catch a touchdown pass in just one game this season, and he also had five 100-yard games. If he can dominate a great LSU defense in the Chick-Fil-A bowl, his draft stock should rise quite a bit.


Tajh Boyd, QB

Junior quarterback Tajh Boyd had another good season for Clemson, but he probably won't be a first-round pick if he enters the draft.

It's possible that Boyd could stay with the Tigers for his senior season, but since the 2013 quarterback class is so weak, he probably has a better chance of being drafted this year than if he waits until 2014 to enter the draft.

Boyd threw 34 touchdowns passes with 13 interceptions this season and helped Clemson finish with an impressive 10-2 record. He threw three or more touchdown passes in a game seven times, including three five-touchdown pass performances.

A great performance against LSU would help Boyd's draft stock in a major way. This is one of the most important games of his career.