Clemson’s Vic Beasley shows linebacker skills during pro day
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson All-American defensive end Vic Beasley put on another stellar show for NFL personnel.
The school’s all-time sacks leader worked out at his familiar defensive line spot, and then with linebackers during the Tigers pro day.
Beasley was a NFL combine headliner last month, running a 4.53-second time in the 40-yard dash and lifting the 225-pound weight 35 times — both top showings among defensive linemen and linebackers in Indianapolis.
While Beasley didn’t run or lift at Clemson’s indoor practice facility, he went through extended drill sessions at both positions in front of 72 evaluators from all 32 NFL teams, including New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
“I came out here with the right mind set and I wanted to show these teams that I can play in space and drop back as a linebacker,” Beasley said.
The lightning quick Beasley, at 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds, was always looked at as too small to play a down line spot in the NFL. He was more than up to that challenge with the Tigers, going from an out of position running back when recruited to the Tigers career leader with 33 sacks.
Beasley’s stock has risen since the combine, from being projected as a late first-rounder to possibly being a top-10 pick in several mock NFL drafts. But most outlooks have him as an outside linebacker who teams can turn loose on passing downs.
Beasley wants to prove he belongs in games for more than just third-and-long.
“I felt like I’ve elevated my level as a linebacker,” he said.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Beasley held his own in drills with two of the Tigers starting linebackers from last fall in Stephone Anthony and Tony Steward.
“That just shows you the kind of guy Vic is,” Swinney said. “He looked pretty good and didn’t have any issues at all out there in linebacker drills with two very polished guys.”
Anthony, Clemson’s leading tackler last fall, is considered the next Tiger off the board after Beasley’s selection. He also stood on his combine workout showings, particularly a 4.56 second time in the 40. Anthony believes he did well enough in his latest workouts to get some NFL teams thinking about making him a late first-round pick instead of his projected spot in the second or third rounds.
Anthony said teams have seen he can fit into either a 3-4 or 4-3 alignments.
“I think I’ve prepared well for that,” he said. “I’m ready to go.”
Clemson finished the season as the country’s No. 1 defense, allowing just 260 yards a game last season. Much of that strength was on display at pro day. Defensive ends Corey Crawford and Tavares Barnes, and tackles Grady Jarrett, DeShawn Williams and Josh Watson also worked out. Two starters in the secondary in safety Robert Smith and cornerback Garry Peters also auditioned for NFL teams.
New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said he was impressed with depth Clemson had across its line and sees several ready to play in the NFL.
“You feel the culture they have here,” Ryan said. “It’s really impressive.”
Belichick wasn’t the only NFL head man in attendance. Ryan’s brother Rex — new Buffalo Bills coach — was on hand after several years watching as New York Jets coach. Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly was also in attendance. Swinney spent quite a while speaking with Belichick and Kelly.
Should Beasley go in the first round, it will be the third straight season Clemson’s had a selection in the opening round and the fourth time in Swinney’s seven seasons as coach.
“They come because they know you’ve got good players,” Swinney said. “Our guys are sticking in that league.”