2023 NFL Draft: Gamecock captain gets NFL shot

South Carolina Football

South Carolina football alum Jovaughn Gwyn was taken in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina football had three players drafted in the 2023 NFL Draft. Cam Smith went 51st overall to the Miami Dolphins, Zacch Pickens was drafted by the Chicago Bears with the 64th pick, and Darius Rush was taken off the board as the later-than-expected 138th pick by the Indianapolis Colts. Offensive lineman Jovaughn Gwyn, a 4-year starter at guard for South Carolina, was taken with the draft’s 225th pick (Round 7, Pick 8) by the Atlanta Falcons.

Gwyn was one of the strongest Gamecocks despite being one of the team’s smallest offensive linemen. He became a team captain his final two years in garnet and black and was a consistent performer for Carolina, especially in the run game. He took over the starting job in the second game of his redshirt freshman campaign and started every game after that. All of his starts came at guard, but he did fill in at center for a few snaps at a time.

As a pro, Gwyn will certainly be a full-time interior lineman, and center probably fits his physical profile best as he has below-average size for any other offensive line position. Now with the Falcons, Gwyn will compete with a host of other young offensive linemen at both guard and center for a spot on the team. The Falcons did not take another interior offensive lineman in the draft, and the team has a vacancy at one of their starting guard spots.

NFL active rosters usually include between 8 and 10 offensive linemen, and at least five of them are usually capable of playing guard and/or center. Typically, a couple of linemen are stashed on a team’s practice squad, as well, and training camp and the preseason schedule (when rosters are larger) are often the best opportunities for players like Gwyn to make their marks and secure a spot on the roster.