Tigers' Gallman, Watkins, Leggett taken on final day of NFL draft


PHILADELPHIA - Wayne Gallman, Carlos Watkins and Jordan Leggett were all selected on the final day of the 2017 NFL draft on Saturday.

It gave the program six selections for the three days of the draft held in Philadelphia for the first time since 1961.

Clemson's six selections ranked tied for eighth in the nation. Michigan had the most with 11, while Alabama had 10. Miami (FL) had nine, while LSU, Florida and Utah had eight apiece. Ohio State had seven, while Clemson, North Carolina and Tennessee had six apiece.

Gallman and Watkins were both selected in the fourth round, just two picks apart. Gallman was taken by the New York Giants with the 140th pick of the draft, while Watkins was taken by the Houston Texans with the 142nd selection. Leggett was taken eight picks later by the New York Jets. It gave Clemson six selections within the first 150 of the draft for the first time since 1991.

Shortly after the draft ended, the Carolina Panthers announced they had signed Clemson All-American linebacker Ben Boulware to a free agent contract, while Jadar Johnson signed with the New York Giants. Artavis Scott will join Mike Williams as a free agent with the Los Angeles Chargers. Quarterback Nick Schuessler signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fifty former Tigers have played in an NFL game as undrafted free agents, including Jeff Bostic, the only former Clemson football player to play on three Super Bowl Championship teams.

The final day of the NFL draft began with an impromptu rendition of "Fly Eagles Fly" by former Philadelphia star safety Brian Dawkins and ended with a player who was far from irrelevant in college being picked last.

Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly, a talented player with a history of off-the-field issues and injuries, was the 253rd and final selection Saturday by the Denver Broncos.

The final pick gets honored as Mr. Irrelevant, but Kelly was a player who could have been selected in the first three rounds if not for all his problems.

Kelly started his college career as a highly rated recruit at Clemson. He was dismissed from the team after being a disciplinary problem and went to junior college before landing at Ole Miss. In two seasons with the Rebels, he passed for 6,800 yards and 50 touchdowns. He also threw 21 interceptions.

Last season was cut short by a torn knee ligament and then in the offseason draft process he suffered a wrist injury.

Most notable on the day was a concentration on running backs, including Oklahoma's highly productive Samaje Perine to Washington, Utah's Joe Williams to San Francisco, NCAA record setter Donnel Pumphrey of San Diego State to Philadelphia, Gallmanto the Giants and South Florida's Marlon Mack to Indianapolis.

Perine set the FBS rushing mark with 427 yards in a game against Kansas - yes, even against the awful Jayhawks it counts.

Williams quit football before the 2016 season before last season. When Utah was ravaged by injuries to its runners, the coaching staff persuaded him to come back. He made the All-Pac-12 team.

Pumphrey seems like a terrific fit for the Eagles because he has similar skills to versatile Darren Sproles, soon to turn 34. The 5-foot-9 Pumphrey led FBS in rushing with 2,133 yards and also scored 17 TDs, and he can catch, too. He left college as the FBS career leader in rushing yards.

Oklahoma's All-America wide receiver Dede Westbrook, who finished fourth in Heisman Trophy balloting, went to Jacksonville. Westbrook was twice accused of domestic violence before he came to Oklahoma as a junior college transfer.

The Steelers, perhaps hoping to replicate the Cowboys' success with the 135th overall slot last year - Dallas took Dak Prescott, and the Mississippi State quarterback became the Offensive Rookie of the Year - grabbed another Southeastern Conference quarterback, Tennessee's Joshua Dobbs, at that spot. Ben Roethlisberger has hinted about retiring in the near future, though certainly not this year, and Pittsburgh must put a succession plan in place.

Through five rounds, the only other quarterback selected was Pitt's Nate Peterman by Buffalo.

Denver began Round 5 by taking Michigan tight end Jake Butt, a potential first-rounder until he tore up his knee in the Orange Bowl. Butt could miss much of 2017.