How many South Carolina football players will be drafted next year?
South Carolina heard the names of four former football players called in last weekend’s NFL Draft. Jaycee Horn was the first off the board, becoming the seventh top 10 pick in program history, while Ernest Jones, Israel Mukuamu, and Shi Smith would get the call over the following rounds. It was the second straight season that the Gamecocks sent four players to professional organizations, and the third time in four years that the program had a first rounder.
Who will be the next Gamecocks to be chosen? Let’s break down some of the more likely candidates to be selected in next year’s draft.
Enagbare will likely be the Gamecocks’ top selection in 2022 after opting to return for his senior season. Some mock drafts had the defensive end listed for this year’s draft, but he decided to come back and improve his stock.
The edge rusher was an All-SEC selection last season after tallying six sacks and three forced fumbles over eight games. Bleacher Report recently predicted that Enagbare will be the Gamecocks’ next first round pick, landing at No. 16 to the Minnesota Vikings.
Here’s what they had to say about Enagbare’s pass rushing abilities.
The 6’4″, 260-pound edge-defender has consistently improved during his three seasons on campus. He managed seven tackles for loss and six sacks in only eight games in 2020. According to Pro Football Focus, the first-team All-SEC selection was the nation’s most effective pass-rusher on third down.
If Enagbare can produce similar results to last season, a first round selection is not out of the question.
Harris is the SEC’s leading returning rusher after taking home the conference’s regular season crown with a 1,138-yard season. The sophomore totaled 15 touchdowns on the ground, including a five-score performance versus Ole Miss. He’s averaged nearly 6.5 yards per carry over his two-year career.
He’ll be draft eligible after the 2021 season, and should he put on the show he did last year, he’ll be an early pick. Harris said he wants to work on becoming a better receiver out of the backfield, making him a more dynamic threat. He currently ranks as the nation’s seventh-best draft eligible option at the position according to College Football News.
Pickens came to South Carolina as a five-star recruit in 2018, and has been a force along the defensive line each of the last two seasons. The Palmetto State native was an All-SEC selection as a freshman, and followed it up with a 35-tackle campaign last year.
College Football News currently lists the interior lineman as the fifth-best defensive tackle in next year’s draft class.
Other possible draft candidates
There will assuredly be names called that aren’t on this list, so we’ll take a look at some other possible draft picks from the South Carolina roster.
OL Dylan Wonnum
Wonnum is a four-year starter that will look to join his brother, DJ, at the NFL ranks.
WR Dakereon Joyner
Joyner could be a focal point in the Gamecocks’ new look offense, with coaches planning for him to line up out wide, in the slot, and in the backfield next season.
RB ZaQuandre White
White had a great showing at the Spring Game, rushing for 95 yards and a score in Kevin Harris’s absence. He’s another player that will get a look at a variety of positions, including kick returner. The ultimate team player, White played some safety following the defensive back opt outs of 2020, but should return to the running back room in 2021.
EDGE Jordan Strachan
Strachan led the NCAA in sacks last year at Georgia State. If he can replicate those numbers in the SEC, he’ll be a sure-fire NFL draft pick.
TE Nick Muse
Muse finished second on the team in receiving, and was quarterback Luke Doty’s top target in the final three games. He should be penciled in as a starter in 2021, and could see a 500-yard season at tight end as one of the Gamecocks’ top pass catching threats.
CB Cam Smith
Smith will be asked to step up and replace first-round pick Jaycee Horn. The corner was pegged as one of the SEC’s rising stars ahead of the 2021 season.