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South Carolina Gamecocks in the NFL Draft: Several Players Taken in Rounds 2-7; Some Taken as Free Agents

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Presswire

After Stephon Gilmore and Melvin Ingram were taken in the first round of the NFL Draft, several other Gamecocks had their names called in the later rounds. Alshon Jeffery was taken in the second round by the Chicago Bears, Rokevious Watkins in the fifth round by the St. Louis Rams, Antonio Allen in the seventh by the New York Jets, and Travian Robertson towards the end of the seventh round by the Atlanta Falcons. Some Gamecocks were picked up in free agency, with Marty Markett going to the Falcons, C.C. Whitlock to the Minnesota Vikings, and Jason Barnes to the San Diego Chargers. There have been the inevitable message-board rumors regarding Stephen Garcia being picked up in free agency, but I haven't seen anything concrete on that, although it certainly wouldn't surprise me if SG5 got a tryout or two.

The biggest surprise, needless to say, was that Allen fell so far. I'm still scratching my head at his descent. He was widely considered, including by ESPN Draftniks Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, to be one of the top five safeties available. Many thought he would go in the third round, maybe even the second if he really caught somebody's eye. However, he fell all the way to the seventh. My only guess is that teams were a bit wary of a projected safety who didn't actually play safety at the college level, but I thought his workouts proved that he has the physical tools, and he proved on the field that he was capable of learning new positions with ease. The good news for Allen is that he'll likely get a chance not only to play but to start for the Jets, who need safeties. The bad news is that he has to play for the Jets.

More generally, the good news is that six Gamecocks were taken for the second time in Spurrier's tenure. The first was in 2009, and what's changed since then is that now we had some guys go in the early rounds, too. This is a testament to the way Spurrier has improved the talent in Columbia since he arrived, and it will be useful recruiting ammunition we seek out the next generation of contributors.