April 27, 2003
Clemson, SC – Nick Eason and Bryant McNeal, Clemson’s top two defensive players in terms of quarterback sacks in 2002, were both drafted in the fourth round of the National Football League Draft by the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Eason was the 114th selection of the draft, while McNeal was the 128th choice.
This marks the first time since the 1998 draft following the 1997 season that two Clemson players were drafted by the same team. That year, Raymond Priester was taken in the fifth round and Glenn Rountree was taken in the sixth round by the St. Louis Rams. The record for Clemson players taken by the same team in the same draft is three.
In the 1983 draft after the 1982 season the New York Giants drafted Tigers Terry Kinard, Andy Headen and Frank Magwood. Kinard and Headen went on to start for the Giants 1986 Super Bowl Championship team.
Clemson already has a defensive influence in Denver. This past season former Tigers Chester McGlockton and Trevor Pryce were the starting defensive tackles for the Broncos. Pryce was named to the Pro Bowl for the fourth straight year. Pryce was a first-round pick of the Broncos in the 1997 draft and that was the last time the Broncos drafted a Clemson player. McGlockton was released by the Broncos on Feb. 25th, but could still play for another team in 2003. He is currently an assistant coach in NFL Europe.
History is on the side of Eason and McNeal as far as making the Broncos roster. Since 1985 Clemson has had 40 players drafted within the top 150 players taken in the draft. Thirty-seven of those 40 players have made NFL rosters.
This past season McNeal started all 13 games and had 67 total tackles and nine sacks. He led Clemson defensive linemen in tackles and was fifth on the team overall. His nine sacks led the Clemson team McNeal, who was a second-team All-ACC selection last year, played in 49 consecutive games for Clemson, tying the school record for consecutive games played.
Eason, a first-team All-ACC choice in 2002, also started all 13 games in 2002 and finished with 64 tackles, second to McNeal among defensive linemen. He had seven quarterback sacks and nine tackles for loss. Eason earned his undergraduate degree from Clemson in 2001 and is working on a master’s degree.
Eason and McNeal are the first Clemson players taken in the NFL draft since the 2001 draft held after the 2000 season. That year Rod Gardner (Washington Redskins) was taken in the first round, while Keith Adams (Tennessee Titans) and Robert Carswell (San Diego Chargers) were drafted in the seventh round.
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