South Carolina Football: Power Ranking the Gamecocks' Best NFL Prospects
In 2012, South Carolina sent a slew of prospects into the NFL Draft.
Marcus Lattimore. DeVonte Holloman. Justice Cunningham. Ace Sanders. D.J. Swearinger. Devin Taylor.
This year, the Gamecocks have one superstar and a couple of late-round slide-in players.
As the talent pool changes, South Carolina still has some NFL prospects of the future throughout the roster.
We all know the hype surrounding Jadeveon Clowney, a potential No. 1 draft choice, but after that the waters are murky for South Carolina's NFL prospects.
Here is a list power ranking the Gamecocks' best NFL prospects as of right now.
5. Jimmy Legree
South Carolina's secondary has not been up to par, but cornerback Jimmy Legree has been one of the bright spots.
The redshirt senior is showing that he can breakdown plays, read the quarterback and intercept passes. Those are three characteristics that NFL scouts will like in Legree.
While Legree is not the most athletically gifted player, he has five years of football experience and the type of personality that could work in the NFL as a depth-chart defensive back.
He's not going to crack into the high rounds.
But, Legree's sense for the ball and above-average cover skills set him as a potential seventh-round selection. If he doesn't go in the seventh round, Legree will most likely land on an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent.
4. Chaz Sutton
South Carolina has a very talented defensive line beyond the likes of Jadeveon Clowney.
Enter Chaz Sutton, the man opposite Clowney.
Sutton has good size for a defensive end at 6' 5" and around 265 pounds.
He has a good burst off the line and he does one of the most valuable things a defensive end can do: get to the quarterback.
He is liked by all of his teammates and is a hard worker. Throw in his leadership skills and Sutton can be a solid locker room presence in addition to his skills.
Sutton lacks some experience since this is his first year as a true starter, but he plays with Clowney and is showing that he has what it takes.
Ultimately, Sutton is another late-round pick like Legree, but he has potential to sneak his way into the sixth round. The seventh round is the most likely destination for Sutton.
3. A.J. Cann
A.J. Cann anchors a strong force of offensive linemen for South Carolina and NFL scouts will notice the man who makes it all work.
Cann is the Gamecocks' best offensive lineman and should garner some attention and awards at the season's end.
He can stuff defensive lineman off the line and set up great blocks for the running game. As a balanced offensive guard, Cann has the skills that can make him a successful offensive linemen in today's NFL.
Cann is a redshirt junior, so he still has one more year remaining and that can help to drive his draft stock higher.
With another year of blocking for running back Mike Davis and a more experienced offense in 2014, Cann can turn some heads and work his way up in the draft.
2. Mike Davis
He's only started four games.
He's only a sophomore.
But he is good. Really good.
Running back Mike Davis is quickly rising as the Gamecocks' best offensive player and one of their best talents on the team. Once Clowney leaves, Davis is South Carolina's man.
Davis has the speed, power and explosiveness to be a top running back in whichever draft he enters, whether it is the 2015 or 2016 draft. He also has the complete game that can thrive at the next level and make him a potential franchise player.
Am I jumping the gun a little bit? Maybe. But, Davis is that good.
He runs angrily with a motor that constantly churns and fights for yardage and busts big plays.
This is a guy who is still emerging. He has flashes of a running back with the skills of Trent Richardson and, dare I say it, Adrian Peterson.
Any player that can run with those two players' styles coming to mind deserves a lot of attention as a high draft pick. Davis might and probably should crack into the first-round depending on which draft he enters.
1. Jadeveon Clowney
Of course. Jadeveon Clowney is South Carolina's No. 1 NFL prospect.
He's a freak of nature.
A beast of a human.
A once in a lifetime talent.
Clowney could be the first name called in the 2014 NFL Draft because of his insane physical abilities and superior skills.
At 6' 6" and 274 pounds, Clowney also has top-end speed that has never been seen in a player of his size. With that size and speed, he can slip the edge or bulldoze offensive linemen to the point of making them look silly either way.
At the next level, Clowney will continue to have that sort of impact on games. Teams avoid Clowney altogether in game-plans because he is that good.
He's an elite-caliber player who people have been waiting on to get to the NFL level since he was a high school player.
Clowney continues to amaze as he embodies the defensive lineman skills of the late greats Deacon Jones and Reggie White, two of the greatest pass rushers in NFL history.
Clowney's future is limitless and that's why he is the No. 1 NFL prospect.