Updated Oct. 12, 2017
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
In recent years, one of the top college programs for producing NFL talent has been the Clemson Tigers. They have had a string of special wide receivers, a number of first-rounders from their defense, and a franchise quarterback, Deshaun Watson. Many thought that Clemson left tackle Mitch Hyatt might continue that trend by being an early-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Hyatt broke into the starting lineup as a freshman in 2015 and was Watson's blind-side protector over two seasons, during which Clemson reached the National Championship game in back-to-back years. However, scouts from NFL teams have been disappointed in Hyatt's play this season, and some sources say they have been grading Hyatt on the third day of the 2018 NFL Draft.
The biggest issue for Hyatt for the NFL is a lack of strength. He is listed at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds, yet has been getting pushed around this season. Here is how one area scout discussed Hyatt, "I graded him in the fourth [round] right now, but if he keeps getting his butt whipped, I'll drop him to the fifth [round]. That being said, offensive tackles rise in the leadup to the draft, and they are getting harder to find. So it wouldn't surprise me if a team reached on him late in the third [round]. But I can't see him going higher than that right now."
Hyatt does have a lot of experience as a 3-year starter who has gone against a lot of good talent during his collegiate career. Sources also say that at Clemson, along with many other spread-option college offenses, offensive linemen aren't being taught to fire off the ball the way they are required to in the NFL. The read-option offenses don't put a priority in knocking defenders off the ball, finishing them off and blocking through the whistle, because the emphasis is on hurrying to the line to play uptempo. To help his draft stock, Hyatt will need to play better in the second half of the season. His best course of action could be returning for his senior year to get stronger before going to the NFL.
Hyatt has gotten some hype with some projections in the first round, but many in the scouting community are much lower on Hyatt and view him as a third-day talent for the 2018 NFL Draft.