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South Carolina Football: NFL Draft Prospects

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As expected, although for different reasons than expected, this year's crop of moving-on Gamecocks is projected to do as well as any such group in quite some time--perhaps ever. The Gamecocks have a large group of players who are likely to be drafted, with some likely to go very early. Let's take a look at some of those guys.

Melvin Ingram. Ingram has made himself millions with his blockbuster 2011 campaign. Merely another good SEC DL coming into the season, he's now considered one of the best in the nation as a hybrid DE / OLB. His freakish combination of speed and strength will have scouts drooling, as will his knack for getting in on big plays.

Alshon Jeffery. Although his stock seems to have fallen a bit after a lackluster year (for the most part not his fault), most mock drafts still have Jeffery going in the first round, although some have him dropping into the second. I think most scouts understand that his lack of production owed to poor QB and OL play; they've seen what he can do when the passing game is clicking and are willing to draft him based on that. I do think his stock could rise or fall a bit based on the combine. The concerns about his conditioning are a myth based on internet rumors, but it remains the case that he seems to lack true breakaway speed. If he can impress with his speed and route running in his workouts, that could help him move into the higher part of the first round. He could also hurt himself if he doesn't perform well.

Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore has a chance to make into the first round--in fact, SB Nation's mock draft has him being taken at 32. However, right now, it looks more likely that he'll be taken in the second or third rounds. I do, though, think it's possible that he'll move up after workouts. Gilmore's measurables are as good as any CB in the draft; he has the ideal blend of speed, agility, and height. His seeming flaws, like Jeffery's, likely owe as much to questionable scheme (notice how much better Gilmore played when we moved to more aggressive coverages mid-season 2011) and poor depth in 2010. More so than Jeffery, though, Gilmore is likely to see his stock rise between now and draft day.

Antonio Allen. Allen hasn't been shown a lot of love by the mock drafts, just as he wasn't by the post-season awards lists. However, ESPN draftnik Mel Kiper thinks that Allen may go in the third or even second round. As a former spur in Ellis Johnson's defense, there are no doubts about Allen's tackling ability. However, as Kiper notes, what may help Allen move up the boards is his improved pass coverage in 2011. Remember how badly Arkansas's TEs killed us when Allen was out? That should tell you a lot about the impact Allen had.

We'll take a look at some more prospects soon.