Gamecocks Fare Well in Draft
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Of the SEC schools, only Alabama and Georgia had more players drafted than South Carolina this year.
The NFL's propensity for drafting South Carolina defensive players continued this year with four of the Gamecocks' six draftees lining up on that side of the ball, including both first round picks.
Only two SEC schools (Alabama and Georgia) had more players drafted this year than USC, whose half dozen selectees surpassed LSU, Arkansas, Florida, Auburn and Tennessee.
The first member of the Gamecocks family to come off the board was cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who was drafted in the first round with the No. 10 overall pick by the Buffalo Bills. Eight picks after Gilmore was chosen by Buffalo, the Chargers selected defensive end Melvin Ingram, who is likely to see time both with a hand down in the dirt and standing up as a hybrid linebacker-type.
Prior to the draft, former USC wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was slated by some to go in the first round. However, he ended up going off the board in the middle of the second round to the Chicago Bears.
The Bears traded with St. Louis to move up five spots into the No. 45 slot in order to take Jeffery. He will wear No. 17 for the team.
While Gilmore, Ingram and Jeffery were expected to be the top three Gamecocks selected, former spur linebacker Antonio Allen was forecasted by most analysts to be the fourth USC player to hear his name called.
Instead, that honor went to offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins, who was selected in the fifth round by the St. Louis Rams with pick No. 150. Watkins, a 6-4, 328-pounder from Fairburn, Ga., projects as a guard at the professional level.
Many around the USC football program are still scratching their heads over how spur/strong safety Antonio Allen fell to become a seventh round pick. The New York Jets got a steal and will be happy in picking Allen as late as they did (No. 242 overall).
The last Gamecock to go was defensive tackle Travian Robertson, who was taken by the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 249 pick overall.
There were also a few former Gamecocks football players that agreed to free agent contracts. Cornerback Marty Markett will join Robertson with the Falcons. Wide receiver Jason Barnes will travel to San Diego with Ingram, while cornerback C.C. Whitlock agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings. Offensive lineman Terrence Campbell signed a free agent contract with the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
As the Gamecocks continue to rise to the top of the SEC, expect drafts like this to become the norm, as Coach Steve Spurrier has elevated the level of recruiting for the program and the exposure is at an all-time high for USC. Winning tends to do that for a program.