After producing 13 draft picks between 2012-2013, South Carolina only had two players get selected a year ago. Of course, one of those happened to be No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney.
This May, the Gamecocks enjoyed a better showing, as four players heard their names called during the 2015 NFL Draft.
However, for the first time since 2011, not a single Gamecock was picked in the first two rounds. Let’s take a closer look at South Carolina’s four recent NFL draftees.
A.J. Cann, OG, Jacksonville Jaguars (3rd round, 67th overall)
Despite garnering some attention as a possible first-rounder, Cann didn’t accomplish his goal of going on Day 1. In fact, his wait lasted a lot longer than most draft experts expected.
Mysteriously, the guy that many viewed as the top guard in this class fell all the way to the beginning of the third round. Ultimately, the 6’3″, 313-pounder landed in Jacksonville, where he’ll be a big upgrade for an offensive line that surrendered an astounding 71 sacks last season.
A four-year starter at South Carolina, Cann plays with tremendous power and has solid athletic ability. The Jaguars scored tremendous value with the plug-and-play starter by getting him with the 67th overall pick. Even if Cann doesn’t become a Pro Bowler, he should be a rock-solid starter for years to come.
Following a terrific 2013 season in which he rushed for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns, Davis looked like a possible top-50 pick. But after watching his yards-per-carry average drop by nearly a full yard in what amounted to a down season for the Gamecocks, Davis slipped well out of Day 2.
Surprisingly, the 49ers spent another fourth-round pick on a South Carolina running back just two years after selecting Marcus Lattimore. Obviously Lattimore’s career hasn’t gone as planned, but the selection of a running back at that point in the draft also raised some eyebrows considering 2014 second-round pick Carlos Hyde seemed like a lock to replace Frank Gore as the starter.
Physically, Davis has all the tools to be a starting-caliber back. With a thick, compact frame and good enough speed (4.52), Lattimore’s former backup needs to prove his senior season was an aberration. If Davis can improve his conditioning, he should form a destructive duo with Hyde.
Corey Robinson, OT, Detroit Lions (7th round, 240th overall)
Much like Davis, Corey Robinson looked like an early-round pick earlier in his career. And given his 6’7″, 324-pound frame, 35 5/8″ arms and surprising athleticism, it’s easy to see why.
Despite his freakish measurables, Robinson never quite lived up to the hype as the Gamecocks’ left tackle the past three seasons. The former defensive line convert certainly had his moments, but his lapses in pass protection caused concerns for scouts.
That said, getting a player with those type of physical traits in the seventh round represented great value for the Lions. Robinson is the exact type of project teams should take a flier on in the final frame, and he could eventually develop into a valuable asset.
Rory “Busta” Anderson, TE, San Francisco 49ers (7th round, 254th overall)
Fighting to earn a selection in what some described as the worst tight end class in recent memory, Busta Anderson accomplished that goal by going in the seventh round to the 49ers.
Checking in at 6’5″, 244 pounds with long arms, the highly athletic tight end definitely possesses NFL talent. However, a long injury history—including multiple triceps tears—and a frightening lack of production (just 61 career catches and 9 TD) raised some red flags.
Still, Anderson is an offensive coordinator’s dream, as he could be a scary mismatch against slower linebackers and smaller safeties. Assuming he can shake the injury-prone label and play up to his potential, Anderson could be one of the steals of the 2015 draft.