South Carolina was all over the NFL Draft this year.
The Gamecocks had six players hear their names called over the three-day event held in New York City. South Carolina was one of the schools with the most draft picks this year. Saturday had some Gamecock flavor to it as well when three players were drafted.
First off the board was a bit of a surprise when offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins was selected in the 5th round by the St. Louis Rams. Watkins started all 13 games for South Carolina in 2011 and earned All-SEC honors but was a player who expected to hear his name called a little bit later in the draft. Watkins versatility certainly helped his cause in the NFL Draft. He can play either the guard or tackle position.
The next Gamecock drafted was Antonio Allen when Rex Ryan and the New York Jets came calling in the 7th round. Allen was listed as one of the top safeties in this draft by Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN but he fell down the draft boards until finally getting drafted in the last round. Allen led USC in tackles in 2011 with 88 total tackles and continued to improve each and ever year on campus. He will be a steal for the New York Jets.
The final draft pick for the Gamecocks on Saturday was defensive tackle Travian Robertson. Robertson was selected in the 7th round by the Atlanta Falcons who are slowly forming the NFL's version of the Gamecocks. Robertson played in the second most games in Carolina history and was considered Steve Spurrier's best captain he's ever coached. I think the high praise from the Head Ball Coach should have been enough to give this young man a chance. He'll now join John Abraham, Dunta Robinson and Cliff Matthews in Atlanta.
Once the draft is over, the players that didn't hear their name called become hot commodities. This has been the case with several Gamecocks as at least four players have signed free agent deals since the draft ended Saturday night. Here's a quick rundown:
- DB C.C. Whitlock signed with the Minnesota Vikings
- WR Jason Barnes signed with the San Diego Chargers
- DB Marty Markett signed with the Atlanta Falcons
- OL Terrance Campbell signed with the Washington Redskins
South Carolina fans are still waiting to hear word on where former QB Stephen Garcia will end up. Rumors are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are interested in signing the local product but nothing has been confirmed as of now.
Overall, it was a great NFL Draft for the Gamecocks and two first-round picks since 1981 show the talent level at South Carolina is much better than what its been.
These are good times in Columbia. Enjoy the ride.