Extensive prior to manning the center of the vaunted “Blitzburgh” protection and rising as a 1990s All-10 years collection with Pittsburgh, Levon Kirkland terrorized opposing offenses as a person of the nation’s greatest players starring for Clemson at the collegiate stage.
Though the program has considering the fact that reached even larger heights with six consecutive college football playoff appearances, the Tigers received at minimum 9 games through Kirkland’s 4 years on campus and went 3-1 in bowl game titles. Soon after redshirting in 1987, the huge 270-pound linebacker played a critical purpose in the team’s on-subject success, racking up 243 tackles, 19. sacks, and 40 tackles for loss in his profession, which culminated with a First-Group All-American selection in 1991.
By the time Kirkland hung up his cleats for fantastic just after the 2002 season, he experienced amassed above 1,000 tackles, 19.5 sacks, and 11 interceptions in 11 seasons with the Steelers, Seahawks, and Eagles. Following retirement, he returned to Clemson to end his sociology diploma and also helped coordinate minority recruitment in admissions for the college. Around the past decade-additionally, he served as a coach at the higher school, school, and NFL amount, most lately paying out time with the Cardinals and Bengals.
Now approximately two a long time taken off from when he past strapped on a helmet and shoulder pads, Kirkland continues to be closely invested in the Clemson program. Inducted into Clemson’s Ring of Honor in 2018, he now hosts the Bleav on Clemson Football podcast, exactly where he dishes his insight on everything Tigers, including prospects preparing to enter the NFL draft.
As one of university football’s blue blood applications, Clemson is no stranger to getting many gamers picked in the 1st round. Since 2015, 7 previous Tigers have listened to their identify identified as in the initially 32 picks. This yr, quarterback Trevor Lawrence will become the most current to join that team, as the former All-American is expected to be the first select to the Jaguars.
But Clemson’s results acquiring NFL expertise has hardly been minimal to the initial spherical, specially at receiver. Past period, the Bengals selected Tee Higgins in the second round and he created 67 receptions for 908 yards as a rookie. 1 calendar year before, the Raiders snagged Hunter Renfrow in the fifth round and he has contributed 105 receptions for 1,261 yards and 6 touchdowns in two seasons.
Speaking with Kirkland just lately on the Locked On Seahawks podcast, from his knowledgeable vantage level, he expects craze must only go on in the 2021 NFL Draft. The previous All-Professional variety sees Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell as two proficient receivers who could be picked in the 2nd round or later and have a possibility to make an rapid splash in the league.
Apparently, Kirkland envisions Seattle remaining an fantastic landing place for both equally gamers slotted guiding DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Particularly, he is intrigued by the imagined of Rodgers catching passes from Russell Wilson at the up coming stage.
“This child is a workhorse,” Kirkland reported. “He can capture all the balls, he can operate patterns pretty effectively, he has wonderful velocity. He’s form of designed like a working back again in a large amount of methods, so in the open area, he’s dynamic. I believe any individual that gets Amari is going to be pleasantly astonished how great of a vast receiver he definitely is and I think people have been sleeping on him.”
Following paying out his initial 3 seasons at Clemson buried on the depth chart driving many other future NFL receivers, together with Renfrow and Higgins, the 5-foot-9, 212-pound Rodgers broke out in 2020. Much more than a 12 months removed from a torn ACL suffered in spring ball prior to his junior 12 months, he caught 77 passes for 1,020 yards and scored seven touchdowns.
Rodgers also remained an integral aspect of the Tigers’ particular teams models. For his career, he returned 68 punts for 529 yards and a touchdown, adding even further flexibility to his resume as he enters the NFL.
Coming off an impressive senior season, Rodgers attained an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and held his have in Mobile in late January, turning heads during a person-on-a person drills towards numerous of the nation’s greatest corners.
“He obtained hurt the 12 months before, but if you look at his tape, you see the explosive plays that he can make,” Kirkland extra. “I’ve found him choose a small swing go and he takes it all the way 80 yards for a landing. No matter if you’re in the ACC or not, that is remarkable.”
Even though he failed to offer as numerous specifics, Kirkland also vouched for Powell, one more late-bloomer who took gain of further taking part in time by developing career-highs in receptions (55), acquiring yards (882), and touchdowns (7) as a senior. Although overshadowed to an extent by Rodgers, he acquired Third-Workforce All-ACC honors as 1 of Lawrence’s leading weapons on the outside the house.
Like Rodgers, the 6-foot, 204-pound Powell offers yards following the capture opportunity at the following stage and he excels at generating contested catches in visitors, which would make him yet another attractive alternative for Seattle most likely on early day three.
Switching gears to the trenches, Kirkland does not see Rodgers and Powell as the only Clemson prospective buyers who could be on the Seahawks radar on draft weekend. If the workforce desires to discover a probable successor to Duane Brown or Brandon Shell at one of the deal with spots, Jackson Carmen may possibly supply the response down the road.
As Kirkland mentioned, he sights the 6-foot-5, 317-pound Carmen as a bit of a developmental task, indicating he thinks the tackle will be offered later on in the draft as a outcome. Other scouts have speculated he could possibly want to transfer inside of to guard in the NFL, dependent on scheme in shape.
But a crew like Seattle that won’t have an speedy need to have for a deal with would be a excellent scenario for him to discover from Brown and coach Mike Solari just before at some point doing the job his way into the lineup.
“He arrived into Clemson with a good deal of stars [as a recruit] and truly truly performed two decades as a good still left deal with.” Kirkland elaborated. “I never know if he is very there, but I consider with possibly 1 or two several years, he could be a pretty good player. Sensible male, athletic guy, a guy who can shift. You can most likely take him later on on.”
With a league-small 3 picks, like a single in the very first 3 rounds, the Seahawks will have limited overall flexibility heading into this week’s draft. Common manager John Schneider will have his work reduce out for him attempting to recoup a handful of picks soon after generating trades for Jamal Adams, Carlos Dunlap, and most recently Gabe Jackson.
But supplied the organization’s desire for drafting players from Energy 5 conferences – 18 of their 19 picks for the duration of the earlier two a long time performed in the ACC, Massive 10, Large 12, Pac 12, or ACC – no matter of how many picks they wind up generating, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see Seattle heed Kirkland’s guidance and draft Rodgers, Powell, or Carmen to help fortify the offense with intriguing talent.
Pay attention to the complete Levon Kirkland job interview here.