As the NFL draft inches closer, the Pro Day circuit continued Thursday with the Clemson Tigers putting their top pro talent on display.
Four NFL head coaches were in attendance for the workout, including the Bills' Rex Ryan, Colts' Chuck Pagano, Steelers' Mike Tomlin and Bengals' Marvin Lewis. It makes sense Lewis was in attendance as the Tigers have three guys who could be in contention for the 24th-overall pick. And, the Steelers have the 25th pick, giving reason to Tomlin being there, too.
The most likely player to be selected near the 24th pick is cornerback Mackensie Alexander, a projected first-round pick in most mock drafts, but someone expected to go toward the end of Round 1. He drew attention at the Combine when he proclaimed himself to be "the best corner in this draft class." He said that in light of not participating in on-field workouts at the Combine because of a hamstring injury suffered in the national championship loss to Alabama.
By the time his Pro Day came, Alexander was healthy enough to put up some good numbers. He ran between 4.40 and 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash on Thursday, per NFL Media reporter Rand Getlin. That would have placed him in the top 10 at his position at the combine.
He also had an impressive vertical jump of 37.5 inches, which would have had him in a tie for seventh place among CBs at the combine. CBS adds that Alexander met Wednesday night with the Steelers and Jets and had dinner with the Saints. The Bengals met with Alexander back at the Scouting Combine.
If the Bengals decide to add a pass-rusher, they may be in a quandary picking between Clemson's dynamic duo at defensive end in Kevin Dodd and Shaq Lawson. Both of those guys are expected to go in Round 1, and it's possible they're both on the board for Cincinnati.
Dodd went from situational pass-rusher before 2015 to becoming one of the most dominant ends in football, registering 62 tackles, 12 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss (second in the nation) and 46 QB pressures. But Lawson has been a standout player ever since first arriving at Clemson. His 25.5 tackles for loss last season led the nation to go with 12.5 sacks and 86 tackles.
Either guy would be a nice get at defensive end/strongside backer for the Bengals if they choose to go this route. Depending on what mock draft you've read, either guy could go as high as the top 10 or fall to or past the Bengals at 24.
After those three, there's a big drop off until the next draft prospect Clemson has, at least if you go off CBS Sports' rankings. T.J. Green and Jayron Kearse are two quality safeties the Bengals could look at after Round 3. That is, unless Reggie Nelson ends up re-signing with the Bengals.
Kearse, a cousin of former NFL defensive back Phillip Buchanon and nephew of former Titans pass rusher Jevon Kearse, finished this past season with 62 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and six passes defended before turning pro as a junior.
Green finished second on the team with 95 tackles, 5.5 for loss, broke up three passes and forced two fumbles during his final season as a junior. Both guys are raw athletic freaks who need a lot of work to become impact players in the NFL.
One other Tiger the Bengals may be interested in is wide receiver Charone Peake. A big 6-2, 209-pound pass-catcher, Peake had 50 receptions for 716 yards and five touchdowns this past season. For his career, he had 99 catches for 1,172 yards and 10 scores.
That may not seem like much, but his career was spent in the shadow of guys like Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant and current Tigers stars Mike Williams and Artavis Scott, both of whom project as quality NFL prospects. With the Bengals in need of multiple receivers in this year's draft, look for Peake to be considered on Day 3.
For more on Clemson's Pro Day, check out the highlights and a recap at Tiger.net.