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By Morgan Thomas

The 2022 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror after three exciting days of watching elite football players from all over the country have their dreams come true by getting selected to an NFL team. The Clemson Tigers and their fans had the privilege of seeing two of their own get chosen. Cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. and linebacker Baylon Spector both received calls. 

Head coach Dabo Swinney now has a total of 71 players drafted to the NFL. This total places Swinney at second-most by any coach in the nation since the 2009 NFL Draft.

Andrew Booth Jr.

The first Clemson player selected was Andrew Booth Jr. The Minnesota Vikings picked the elite cornerback in the second round at No. 42 overall. Booth will be a major addition to the Vikings' defense in 2022. The Vikings were focused on improving their secondary. They did so by drafting Georgia safety Lewis Cine and Booth Jr. with their first two picks. Cine and Booth Jr. are savvy defenders and Minnesota will look to use their elite versatility to help them address their issues with blowing leads in 2021.

“They are getting, first of all, a great person with a great spirit to him,” Swinney said. “(He is) a guy that loves to play. From a football standpoint, they’re getting a rare corner: long, explosive, fast, a physical tackler at the corner position, which is really not always the case, with great ball skills. Very instinctive guy and I think a guy that helps the team right away.”

Andrew Booth Jr. was selected to the First-Team All-ACC Defense in 2021. Many experts considered him a definite first-round pick until medical concerns caused him to slip to the second day of the draft. Make no mistake about it, he is still a first-round level talent. He will have the opportunity to learn behind the aging but talented Patrick Peterson who is playing on another 1-year deal with the team.

Clemson had to wait until the next day to see another player drafted. It was not a surprise that it was another player from the defensive side of the ball. 

Baylon Spector

The Buffalo Bills selected linebacker Baylon Spector in the seventh round at No. 231 overall on Saturday.

Spector was not expected to be the second Clemson player picked in the NFL Draft. His grades were in complete contrast to that of Andrew Booth Jr. Spector was not a potential first-round pick but rather he was graded as someone who would be a decent backup player and possibly a starter on special teams. If you could give him one keyword that experts listed him as it would be "average." However, if you take the time to look past the analyst grades you can find a player who is a hard worker with great fundamentals who can sneak up and lead the team in tackles before you know it.

Actually, that's exactly what Spector did in 2020, he lead the team in tackles with 65. When he got his chance, he took advantage of it. He might not be the most talented player in the room but he will outwork many of those same players.

Measurables sometimes take precedence over intangibles as I mentioned above. Thankfully Spector hit in the one area that everyone looks at the most. He went to the NFL Combine and posted a 4.6 40-yard dash. That raw speed, along with his work ethic, likely helped him get drafted in 2022.

“Baylon Spector, as you saw at the Combine, can really run. You don’t see many guys his size that can run like that,” Swinney said. “Very athletic. Baylon is a true Will (linebacker) that can really cover and play on the edge but also can move in and play Mike. I think that he’s got outstanding Day 1 potential with his size, with his speed, with his experience, with his knowledge of the game, but also his ability to be a Day 1 starter on special teams on all core teams. Another graduate, a fifth-year player that has a ton of championship experience that he’ll bring with him.”

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