The South Carolina Gamecocks have had 15 players selected in the last three NFL Drafts, including the number one overall pick just a few months ago in Jadeveon Clowney. Safe to say, the Gamecocks recruiting efforts have been paying off, leading to both wins and well representation in the NFL. But what about the 2014 Gamecocks? Who are the top pro prospects this fall? As usual, we’ll only discuss players eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft, so I can’t rave about sophomore OLB Skai Moore like I’d like to.
It’s hard not to get excited when you plug in the film for junior RB Mike Davis, one of the top prospects at his position nationally. The 5-foot 9, 223-pounder exploded last season for 1,183 yards and 11 TDs on the ground, and showed his versatility out of the backfield with 34 receptions for 352 yards. Davis isn’t a burner and doesn’t have track speed, but has good lower body strength to plow through the middle, and enough shake to bounce it outside. His vision is outstanding and could really excel in a zone-blocking scheme at the next level with his one-cut ability.
The Gamecocks will have one of the best offensive lines in the country this fall, and it’s led by two highly intriguing senior prospects in LT Corey Robinson and LG A.J. Cann. Robinson arguably has the highest upside, and really took his development up a notch last season. At 6-foot 8, 344-pounds, he’s utterly massive. He’s got tree limbs for arms and is an absolute bulldozer in the run game. I’m not entirely sold on him protecting the blindside at the next level unless he improves his feet in pass pro, but could be a star RT. He reminds me a lot of Minnesota Vikings stud RT Phil Loadholt.
Cann (6-foot 4, 311-pounds) is equally strong in the run game next to Robinson, and has been a model of consistency the past three seasons. He just might be the first guard selected in the ’15 Draft, and it’s easy to see why after just a couple minutes of film. A force run blocking (who easily gets to the second level), he’s also got good feet and lateral agility in pass pro. Cann uses good leverage and mechanics, and to boot, he’s a smart player and a strong leader on and off the field.
Finally we get to the defensive side of the ball, where the top prospect is senior DT J.T. Surratt. The 6-foot 2, 310-pounder will be counted on to lead a revamped DL that lost not only Clowney but also All-American DT Kelcy Quarles. Surratt has quietly been an effective run stuffer for the Gamecocks the past few seasons and has helped chew up blockers to free the edge rushers. He’s strong against the run but isn’t exactly a sack master, though he does have an effective bull rush to collapse the pocket. I like his future at either 5-tech in an odd front or nose in an even.
Remember, these are just a few of the top prospects, and there’s plenty of other pro talent taking the field in Columbia this fall. WR’s Damiere Byrd and Shaq Roland, TE Rory Anderson (assuming he can come back healthy), RT Brandon Shell, MLB Kaiwan Lewis and SS Brison Williams are others to keep an eye on. Byrd (4.3 speed) and Roland are major deep threats on a team loaded with them, and Shell has really improved his feet in pass pro the past two seasons.