Part 6, Edge: Why the Clemson Curse 'scares the shit' out of the NFL
Can Myles Murphy break the run of draft flops? A bizarre run of disappointments has scouts wary. Scouts explain. Also inside: Why Will Anderson is (by far) the best in class at pass rusher.
This is the 39th year that Bob McGinn has written an NFL Draft Series. Previously, it appeared in the Green Bay Press-Gazette (1985-’91), the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (1992-’17), BobMcGinnFootball.com (2018-’19), The Athletic (2020-’21) and GoLongTD.com (2022-’23). Until 2014, many personnel people were quoted by name. The series reluctantly adopted an all-anonymous format in 2015 at the request of many scouts. The 12-minute, 50-question Wonderlic test no longer is administered at the NFL combine. Players generally took the test at spring 2022 timing days, all-star games and pro days in March and April. The NFL average score is about 19.
Today, Part 6: Edge rushers.
It comes up every year in probably every draft room. Say hello to the Clemson Curse.
For all the success Clemson football has enjoyed for decades, NFL teams often haven’t benefited. The only reason this story is being written stemmed from the fact that three scouts, without solicitation, brought up the stigma associated with players from Clemson.
“I’m really biased here because I’ve scouted a bunch of busts at this school,” a seasoned evaluator said. “But that Clemson helmet scares the shit out of me on the defensive line. Enough of us have been burned over the years. You’re forever on guard.”
In my poll asking 17 scouts which edge rusher had the best chance to bust, one personnel director picked Myles Murphy. Asked why, he replied, “You know. Clemson.”
Murphy led the way with five votes, compared to three for Will McDonald and Tyree Wilson, two for Isaiah Foskey and one for Zach Harrison, BJ Ojulari and Nolan Smith. There was one no vote.
“When Murphy flashes, he is a Top 15 pick,” said another long-time evaluator. “But there are series where he disappears. He’s a great kid. He’s got all the tools. He’s going in the first. But he’s got that Clemson stigma.”
From there, I began to ask scouts to explain this pox over Clemson that became evident to me in the mid-1980s.
“You know what they do?” another weathered scout said. “They test really well. It’s been like that for 25 years. Clemson’s hard (to scout) because they’re so f--king spoiled. They’re entitled. Unless you’re squeaky clean, I wouldn’t touch you.”