Top 10 returning players at Clemson include potential first-round picks Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee

    The top 10 returning players for the Clemson Tigers are headlined by potential first-round picks Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy.

    Despite 10 wins and a steadily improving roster, the 2021 college football season was a disappointment for the Clemson Tigers. With eyes on 2022, the top 10 returning players at Clemson give us a clear indication of where their strength once again will be. The defense is again loaded with talent, especially on the defensive line, where they should have multiple first-round NFL draft picks.

    For every conference’s top returning playersAAC | ACC | B1G | Big 12 | Conference USA | Independents | MAC | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt

    Top 10 returning players at Clemson

    We’re counting down all the top 10 players returning to action on every team — we’ll deal with transfers later — from Air Force to Wyoming, from Miami to Hawaii, and all in between. Here are the top returning players to Clemson.

    10) Will Shipley, RB

    Surprisingly, Will Shipley needs more love. He led the team with 11 rushing touchdowns and 739 yards while tying for fifth with 16 receptions. Whether grounding out yards through tackles or in the open field, Shipley made the most of seemingly every touch. Shipley is shifty and has great vision. Despite below-average quarterback play last season, he kept the offense on track as best he could.

    9) Sheridan Jones, CB

    The first of eight defensive stars in the top 10 returning players for Clemson, Sheridan Jones is the top cover corner returning after Andrew Booth Jr. left for the NFL. Jones recorded one interception and multiple plays on the ball despite being targeted significantly less than his teammates.

    Like most Tigers on the backend, Jones has great athleticism and can play with any receiver that lines up against him. He’ll fight through the ball with the receiver and doesn’t allow anything after the catch.

    8) Joseph Ngata, WR

    Taking the mantle as the top target at Clemson, Joseph Ngata teased the nation through nine games. After averaging over 19 yards per catch a season ago, Ngata will return to action as the clear-cut No. 1 receiver. On just 23 catches, Ngata went for 438 yards and was seemingly stopped only by his QB play. Size is no issue nor is his ability to go up and get any throw with his athleticism.

    7) Xavier Thomas, EDGE

    A longtime standout on the edge for Clemson, Xavier Thomas has somehow maintained a quiet, albeit dominant, nature about his game. He’s been wreaking havoc off the edge for four seasons now, exploding onto the scene back in 2018. Thomas finished with 3.5 sacks and 5.5 total tackles for loss last year, a testament to his ability given the stacked nature around him.

    6) R.J. Mickens, S

    A healthy safety unit returns multiple potential stars as R.J. Mickens is second fiddle to no one. Mickens has the size and frame to match up with even the biggest tight ends in coverage and the speed to track down any ball carrier either on the play side or from behind. He’s dominant against the run where he closes space easily, but his coverage prowess is what stood out in the middle of the season last year.

    5) Tyler Davis, DT

    A big man in the middle, Tyler Davis heads up against a center is a mismatch no offense really wants to have to deal with. With his strength, Davis has the upper hand and will toss interior linemen with ease.

    He also has the upper hand with his strong football IQ, understanding of blocking schemes, and using that to his advantage to sniff out the point of attack. If Davis is healthy, there isn’t a better defensive line — specifically interior defensive line — in the country.

    4) Andrew Mukuba, S

    A ridiculously-talented individual, Andrew Mukuba makes plays that few should be able to. He’ll handle any receiver in his range, no matter his or the receiver’s alignment. Athletic and incredibly strong for his size, Mukuba presents a challenge to block in the open field. He’s a technically-savvy tackler with high upside and has great ball skills in coverage.

    3) Trenton Simpson, LB

    Perhaps the 2023 NFL Draft’s top linebacker prospect, Trenton Simpson transcends the position. He does everything asked of him and then some, excelling in every facet. Simpson will blow through intended blockers with ease when he blitzes. He’ll patrol the underneath area of the field with precision and uses his instincts to blow up rush plays as they develop. There isn’t anything not to like about Simpson’s game.

    2) Bryan Bresee, DT

    One thing jumps out about Bryan Bresee when you queue the tape: he’s freakishly strong. Bresee’s speed and terrific technique are a given, but his strength is unmatched for a man at his position and at his frame.

    At 6’5″, 300 pounds, Bresee at times rips through blockers with one arm or just simply plants blockers on their backsides before the ball is thrown or even given to a running back. Bresee uses his quicks and strength to his advantage but also understands schemes and assignments among the best there are. He’s a technician when healthy.

    1) Myles Murphy, EDGE

    There are times that Myles Murphy already looks like an NFL player. And then there are times where he looks like a top-five pick. Unfortunately for opposing offenses, those times are incredibly frequent as Murphy dominates the action. He’ll two-gap with ease. Murphy will blow up run fits with the greatest ease. He’ll rush the passer no matter the alignment or blocker in front of him. And he does it almost instinctually as he’s just simply better than anyone that’s ever been put in front of him.

    Honorable mention players returning to Clemson in 2022

    • Beaux Collins, WR
    • K.J. Henry, EDGE
    • Jalyn Phillips, S
    • Ruke Orhorhoro, DT
    • DJ Uiagalelei, QB
    • B.T. Potter, PK

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

    Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

    Related Articles