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Thoughts on Gamecocks in the NFL Draft

Streeter Lecka

Seven former Gamecocks were selected over the past three days in the NFL Draft. A few quick thoughts on where they ended up:

--D.J. Swearinger was selected by the Texans in the second round. Swearinger joins former nemesis DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson, who was taken in the first round by Houston. (Guess Dabo was wrong that Hopkins needed another year at CU.) Swearinger should have the opportunity to compete for playing time right away. As things currently stand, he'll be the team's third safety, and one of the things they like about him is that he can serve as back up at both strong and free safety. Plus, the Texans just signed veteran star Ed Reed, and Reed isn't getting any younger. This is a solid destination for Swearinger.

--Ace Sanders was selected in the fourth round by Jacksonville. He'll compete for playing time at slot receiver and punt returner. Considering that he'll be competing with Jordan Shipley for playing time at receiver, he could find himself playing sooner rather than later. Of course, Jacksonville is a notoriously underperforming franchise, so hopefully Sanders won't find himself stuck in a sinking ship.

--Marcus Lattimore was selected in the fourth round as well, by San Francisco. This is a great opportunity for Lattimore, which will perhaps be some small consolation considering the harrowing road he had to take to get here. Obviously, SF is a premier franchise that's primed for success in the coming years. Lattimore will begin his career behind SF star Frank Gore, who has gone through injury issues of his own and will be a good mentor for Lattimore. Gore's not getting any younger, though, so the opportunity will be there for Lattimore to get more playing time within a couple of years. Very happy for our favored son.

--Devin Taylor was also taken in the fourth round, this time by Detroit. If he makes his way into the starting lineup anytime soon, he'll benefit in similar way to how he benefited at USC--Detroit has an elite defensive line that's anchored by tackles Suh and Fairley, and Taylor will be to take advantage when opposing teams focus too much attention on those two. I don't think Taylor is going to be an elite DE in the NFL, though. He's an impressive physical specimen, but his game never really rose to the level that I once thought it might after impressive freshman and sophomore seasons.

--DeVonte Holloman was taken in the sixth round by the Cowboys. Holloman, who put on some muscle his last couple of years at Carolina, was taken as an outside linebacker, where the Cowboys could use a little help. With a good training camp, he could find himself in a position to get a little playing time next year.

--T.J. Johnson was selected in the seventh round by the Bengals. Johnson will begin his career behind two capable centers and will likely be shooting for the practice squad this coming season. He may also get a look at guard. He has great size and power, but his foot speed puts him behind elite NFL offensive linemen.

--Justice Cunningham was Mr. Irrelevant, going as the last pick to Indianapolis. The Colts already have two solid TEs in Coby Fleener and Cunningham's former nemesis Dwayne Allen. However, the Colts like their jumbo packages and have need of extra tight ends. They like Cunningham as a player who is known as an excellent blocker and whose receiving skills improved significantly in his final season.