Last year was a good year overall for South Carolina players in the NFL.Deebo Samuel continued to prove himself, and rookies like Javon Kinlaw and DJ Wonnum made impacts for their teams. There were also a couple surprise players like Mike Davis.
A lot of former Gamecocks found themselves a new team. Who will have the best season as the NFL shifts to a 17 game schedule for the first time?
It would go without saying that Davis is currently in the prime of his career.
After being drafted in the fourth round in 2015, he has bounced around teams struggling to find a starting spot. That changed when Christian McCaffery went down for the Panthers last year.
Davis finished the 2020 season with 642 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. He also had 373 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.
\With McCaffery coming back healthy to the Panthers, Davis found a new home in Atlanta. Since the Falcons let Todd Gurley walk, Davis will now be the starter.
According to PFF, the Falcons have the number 23 offensive line heading into the 2021 season. This means that there could be a lot of screens and quick plays.
Davis could easily surpass the 1,000 scrimmage yard mark for the first time in his career.
Clowney has been solid in his NFL career, but he hasn’t put up elite numbers since the 2018 season. Part of the reason is he didn’t fit in well with the Tennessee Titans.
He’s now a member of the Cleveland Browns, and he will have a lot of chances to be disruptive this season.
The Browns will have a top three edge rusher on the left side with Myles Garrett, so Clowney will get a lot of one-on-one looks this year. He’s 28, so he still has plenty of good years left.
Clowney has been labeled a bust because he hasn’t lived up to the hype as a number one overall pick. The real issue is he never found a good fit.
The Browns will be the perfect team for him to return to elite form.
Byrd is another player who struggled to find his footing in the NFL until later in his career. He ended up being a reliable receiver for Cam Newton and the Patriots last year where he posted 604 receiving yards and a touchdown.
He now plays for the Bears, who have what they think is a franchise quarterback for the first time in Justin Fields. Although Byrd isn’t listed as a starter on the depth chart, he is only behind Anthony Miller.
Miller has struggled ever since he got to the NFL. Fields is known for his deep ball, and apparently the chemistry is already forming in Chicago.
Justin Fields had a gorgeous deep ball to Damiere Byrd down the sideline today. Matt Nagy said “He has that mentality to rip your heart out.”— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) June 9, 2021
Byrd brings a lot of speed to the Bears, and his deep threat ability will make him a valuable member of the Chicago receiving corps assuming Justin Fields starts this year.
There’s a lot to be excited about as far as former Gamecocks go this year. There are still a lot of good players like Hayden Hurst and Deebo Samuel who will continue to play well while guys like Javon Kinlaw and Bryan Edwards will look to build on their young careers.