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Apr 29, 2021

Clemson 2021 NFL Draft Central

Clemson Football • 2021 NFL Draft

Clemson's First No. 1 Pick Leads Five Total Selections in 2021 NFL Draft

CLEMSON, S.C. — A historic draft for Clemson that started with the first No. 1 pick in program history on Thursday concluded Saturday with the fifth-round selection of Cornell Powell by the Kansas City Chiefs with the No. 181 overall pick. Powell’s selection gave Clemson five total picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Powell became the latest in Clemson’s lineage of productive Tiger wideouts drafted into the NFL, becoming the 11th Clemson receiver selected in the last nine drafts. His selection coupled with the Packers’ third-round selection of Amari Rodgers gave Clemson multiple wide receivers in a single draft for the third time in the Dabo Swinney era, joining 2014 (Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant) and 2018 (Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud).

Collectively, Clemson reached at least five selections for the third straight draft, one shy of the longest streak in school history (2014-17). Clemson is one of only eight schools with at least five picks in each of the last three drafts. The five picks also pushed Swinney’s career draft pick total to 69, the second-most by any college coach since the 2009 NFL Draft.

With the vast majority of Clemson’s 2020 defense returning this season, the 2021 NFL Draft was a historical anomaly for Clemson in terms of the distribution of offensive and defensive picks. With the selections of quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne, offensive lineman Jackson Carman, wide receiver Amari Rodgers and Powell, the 2021 NFL Draft marked the first time Clemson’s entire draft class came from the offensive side of the ball since tight end Bennie Cunningham, running back Don Testerman, wide receiver Craig Brantley and offensive tackle Gary Alexander comprised Clemson’s 1976 NFL Draft class.

As Clemson’s current NFL Draft picks head to the professional level, Clemson’s next wave of future NFL selections will open the 2021 season with one of the most-anticipated non-conference showdowns of the season when the Tigers face Georgia on Saturday, Sept. 4 in Charlotte. Clemson will return to Death Valley for its home opener a week later when it hosts South Carolina State at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 11.

Notes on Clemson’s draft class and individual selections, as well as social media highlights from the draft, are included below








On Trevor Lawrence:

Head Coach Dabo Swinney: “The Jaguars are getting a winner, capital W-I-N-N-E-R, WINNER. They’re getting a great human being, great leader and a highly skilled football player. He is a mentally and physically tough football player. He’s fast, he’s big, he’s strong, and he is an incredibly equipped and skilled quarterback. He just really has great command of the position, an understanding of football, aptitude for football, understanding of defense. Really, there is not anything you could ever want in a quarterback that he doesn’t possess. But the No. 1 thing that they’re getting is a great man of faith, great character and the ultimate winner. If you go all the way back to middle school, he has not lost many games. And I think he is going to be a guy that impacts the community, will impact the coaching staff, will impact free agency, and really do it in an incredibly humble way. Great spirit, a guy that has got his feet on the ground and really ‘gets it’ in every aspect of what his responsibility and what his role will be, not only in the organization but within the community and the NFL.”

Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Brandon Streeter: “I can’t say enough good things about Trevor Lawrence and what he’s about not only on the field but especially off the field. Obviously, his talent that we all see is ridiculous, but in all areas he has performed so well. I’m just excited about his opportunity to move on to the next level. I think his locker room presence, him being an unbelievable teammate and just his character in general are off the charts. His perspective on life is exactly what you want. I’m so proud of him and excited for this opportunity in his life.”

On Travis Etienne:

Head Coach Dabo Swinney: “Travis is one of the most explosive, dynamic players that I have ever seen. He is a bigger C.J. Spiller, which is the best way I can describe him based on the guys that I have had experience with. C.J. was probably 199-200 lbs. Travis is just bigger, but he has that same explosiveness. He is dynamic, as far as what he can do in the passing game. He can also return. He has an incredibly humble spirit to him. He is one of the best teammates you can ever have, and he is blue collar. He is just a tough, blue-collar football player. He is an every-down player. He is a first-, second- and third-down guy, and he can change the game any play, any quarter. Any time he touches the ball, he is one of those guys that you’ve got to hold your breath, and I can’t wait to see him at the next level and watch him continue to develop as a complete player.”

Running Backs Coach C.J. Spiller: “They’re getting a tremendous player and a guy that’s going to come in and work hard and he’s also going to be great in the community. He’s a guy that’s going to love playing football, love his teammates, put his team first and do whatever it takes to win. They’re getting a tremendous young man that’s going to be very successful. He’s somebody that comes from a winning program, so he understands what it takes to win at a high level. He’s going to come in and compete each and every day, so he’s going to be a great addition to their team.”

On Jackson Carman:

Head Coach Dabo Swinney: “The Bengals are getting a first-round talent. Like Tee Higgins last year, Tee Higgins went in the second round, but he was a top-15 talent and I think you saw that in how he played. Tee Higgins was a ready-to-go guy right out of the gate with his best football still in front of him and he left early right after his junior year, and I would say the same exact thing about Jackson. We have had him here for two-and-a-half years and Jackson is a ‘day one’ guy. He is going to play day one; he is not a guy who is going to redshirt. He is ready to play and that is because you can’t find what he has. It is hard to find offensive linemen, first of all, but especially offensive linemen that are incredibly athletic, big, strong, and can play literally four positions — and more importantly has the knowledge to play four positions. He just gets it. He understands football. So wherever he went, his team was going to get a first-round talent. I think if he had been back, he would have been a top-15 pick. I think he is one of those guys that has a chance to play a long time, and if his body holds up, I think he’ll decide when football ends for him — he has got that type of upside to him. So I’m super excited about his future and excited for the team that gets him because I know how hard it is to find ready offensive linemen and that’s what you get with Jackson Carman. You get a guy that is ready to make you better the day he steps on the field.”

Offensive Line Coach Robbie Caldwell: “They are getting a class young man. He’s very smart, very intelligent. He’s talented in football, of course, but he can do anything — sing, cook, play musical instruments — which tells you a little bit about his intelligence. He’s very athletic, a big guy who can run and bend. He can play guard or tackle, and I think they’re going a have great locker room presence on top of a great player.”

On Amari Rodgers:

Head Coach Dabo Swinney: “The Packers are getting a true professional. He is the ultimate pro. This kid has handled himself like a pro since I met him, and I mean in every aspect of his life. He is incredibly committed to excellence in every area: academics, his relationships, how he deals with media, how he responds to adversity, you name it. He is the same guy every day. He has an incredible mind to him. He has an incredible mental toughness and grit, and then he is just highly skilled. He brings a ton of experience. He has played a ton of football. He has incredible special teams value. He can do a lot of things there. He played his first two years on the outside, he played his last two years in the slot. He is crafty. He is a technician at his position, and he is a guy that’s going to be ready day one since he can play multiple positions and is incredibly smart. Again, he is built like a running back, but he has the length of a 6-foot-3 wideout and plays long. He is a tough yards-after-the-catch guy and I think is one of those guys that, like I said, is a true pro and will be a leader from the moment he gets there.”

Wide Receivers Coach Tyler Grisham: “Amari Rodgers is the total package. He is what you want in a player and in a person. He’s a high-effort guy who is going to lead by example. As a player, he is going to do everything you ask and more. Very versatile — can play the slot, can play outside and you can hand the ball off to him because he has such great center of gravity, contact balance and strength. He also can also take it the distance. He has great speed, great hands. He is the ultimate competitor. I could go on and on about him, but he’s the total package.”

On Cornell Powell:

Head Coach Dabo Swinney: “The Chiefs are getting a young man of commitment and perseverance, a young man that has finally put it all together and is just hungry to go continue what he finished his career with last year. There is a drive and hunger to him that I think is special. It is fun to see a guy that finally puts it all together, whether it be overcoming injuries, opportunity or the technical aspect of the game. He did that. It has been fun to watch him. He is physical. He has got a great body. He is a big, strong kid that can play multiple positions. Same thing as Amari Rodgers — he really handles himself well and really understands the nuances of playing receiver as far of the technical aspect of his stance, his starts, the releases, and break points and influence in his route running and so forth. They are getting a guy that has a confidence to go with the talent. I am excited about him because his upside is higher than the round where he was drafted. So I am excited for the Chiefs because I think he is the guy that is going to be able to help early. Same thing as Amari — he has a lot special teams’ value. He can return, he can cover kicks, he can play gunner. He is going to bring a lot to the table. And I think he has got an NFL-ready body right now. But his best football is still in front of him. The light has come on bright for him. There is a hunger, and again, there is a spirit of confidence to him that I think will separate him on this next step.” 

Wide Receivers Coach Tyler Grisham: “Cornell is a great prospect that I really think it just scratching the surface of his potential. He really came on his senior year here at Clemson and stepped up when we needed him most. The thing about Cornell is he’s a versatile player because he has good height, but his length makes him play longer and bigger than he really is, so he can go up and make the contested plays. He also can run good routes because he is a 6-foot-1 or so guy who can get in and out of his breaks really well and create separation. Because of his length, he can use his physicality and strength to create separation and to also hold up in the run game, block well and also contribute on special teams.”


Day 2: Carman, Rodgers Selected on Day 2

CLEMSON, S.C. — Offensive lineman Jackson Carman (No. 46 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals) and wide receiver Amari Rodgers (No. 85 to the Green Bay Packers) were both selected on Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft on Friday evening. Including the selections of quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne in the first round on Thursday, Clemson now has four selections through the first three rounds of this year’s draft.

For the second straight draft, it was the Cincinnati Bengals that were the first on Day 2 to select a Clemson Tiger. A year ago, the Bengals opened the second round by selecting wide receiver Tee Higgins at No. 33 overall. This year, the Bengals selected Carman, a Cincinnati native, at No. 46 overall, making him the highest-selected Clemson offensive lineman since the Detroit Lions selected guard Dave Thompson with the No. 30 overall selection in the 1971 NFL Draft.

Rodgers continued the tradition of “Wide Receiver U” with his selection by the Packers in the third round. Rodgers became Clemson’s 10th draft pick at wide receiver since 2013 and extended Clemson’s school-record number of consecutive drafts with a wide receiver selected to six, currently the nation’s longest active streak.

This year’s draft marks the third straight year that Clemson has produced four selections over the first three rounds. Clemson has had at least three players selected through the first three rounds in five of the last six drafts.

The 2021 NFL Draft will resume at noon ET on Saturday with Rounds 4-7.

Day 1: Tigers Make History in Round 1

CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson added another chapter to its NFL Draft history on Thursday evening, as the Jacksonville Jaguars selected quarterback Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall and running back Travis Etienne No. 25 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Lawrence became the first No. 1 overall pick in Clemson Football history, and the selections made Lawrence and Etienne the first quarterback/running back duo selected from the same school by the same team in the first round the Common Draft era (since 1967).

The selections of Lawrence and Etienne gave Clemson multiple first-round picks for a program-record third consecutive year. Clemson and Alabama are the only programs to have produced multiple first-rounders in each of the last three drafts.

With Lawrence’s selection, Clemson became only the 51st program ever to produce a No. 1 pick since the inception of the NFL Draft in 1936 and only the third ever to do so while members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Lawrence now moves to the professional level after a decorated college career in which he became the winningest quarterback in Clemson history (34-2 as a starter) while also earning his degree in only three years.

“The Jaguars are getting a winner, capital W-I-N-N-E-R, WINNER,” Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney said. “They’re getting a great human being, great leader and a highly skilled football player.”

Lawrence’s selection at No. 1 surpassed Banks McFadden (No. 4 in 1939), Gaines Adams (No. 4 in 2007), Sammy Watkins (No 4 in 2014) and Clelin Ferrell (No. 4 in 2019) to make him the highest NFL Draft selection from Clemson all-time. He became the third No. 1 overall pick across all sports in Clemson Athletics history, joining baseball’s Kris Benson (1996) and men’s soccer’s Robbie Robinson (2020).

Lawrence helped guide Clemson to the program’s third national title in 2018, starting the final 11 games of major college football’s first 15-0 campaign since 1897. This past season, he finished second in Heisman Trophy voting and won the Bobby Bowden Trophy and ACC Player of the Year amid a plethora of conference and national awards.

Etienne completed one of the most prolific careers in Clemson, ACC and college football history from 2017-20, becoming a consensus All-American in 2020 after winning back-to-back ACC Player of the Year honors in 2018 and 2019. He departed for the NFL as the FBS record-holder for most career games scoring a touchdown (46 of his 55 career games) as well as the ACC career record-holder for rushing yards (4,952), total touchdowns (78), rushing touchdowns (70) and points scored (468).

“He is a first-, second- and third-down guy, and he can change the game any play, any quarter,” Swinney said. “Any time he touches the ball, he is one of those guys that you’ve got to hold your breath.”

Etienne became Clemson’s third first-round running back in the Common Draft era, joining Terrence Flagler (No. 25 in 1987) and current Clemson running backs coach C.J. Spiller (No. 9 in 2010). He joined Spiller, Virginia Tech’s David Wilson (No. 32 in 2012), Virginia’s Thomas Jones (No. 7 in 2000) and Florida State’s Warrick Dunn (No. 12 in 1997) as the fifth ACC running back selected in the first round in the last 25 years.



WHAT: 86th Annual National Football League Player Selection Meeting

WHERE: Cleveland, Ohio

WHEN: 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 29 (Round 1); 7 p.m. ET on Friday, April 30 (Rounds 2-3); Noon ET on Saturday, May 1 (Rounds 4-7)

TIMING: Round 1: 10 minutes per selection. Round 2: Seven minutes per selection. Rounds 3 through 6, including compensatory picks: Five minutes per selection. Round 7, including compensatory picks: Four minutes per selection.

TELEVISION: The 2021 NFL Draft will be televised nationally by NFL Network, ABC, ESPN and ESPN Deportes. Live audio coverage will be provided by SiriusXM (Rounds 1-7), Westwood One (Round 1) and ESPN Radio (Rounds 1-7).

CLEMSON PARTICIPATION: Clemson will not have any personnel on-site in Cleveland. Presumptive No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence has elected to watch the draft with friends and family from his home in Clemson. Potential first-round pick Travis Etienne will also participate virtually from the Dallas area in lieu of being on-site.