Clemson's Vic Beasley has NFL's attention

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is obviously a little biased when talking about his former teammates, but he sounded convincing when he made a bold claim about draft-bound pass-rusher Vic Beasley.

"There's nobody that matches him in the country," Boyd said Thursday during Clemson's pro day. "I think that he's an instant-impact player in the NFL. People talk about [Florida's] Dante Fowler and how he could be the No. 1 defensive player taken. But I think it would be a mistake not to take Vic first.

"Somebody asked me who you could compare him to. You can't do it with J.J. Watt because J.J. Watt is not as explosive as Vic, and J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in the league."

When told about Boyd's high praise and favorable comparison to Watt, Beasley snickered for a moment.

"I don't know," he eventually said. "I guess we'll see at the next level."

The 6-foot-3-inch Beasley, who weighed in at 246 pounds on Thursday, earned the league's attention with his jaw-dropping performance at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, completed 35 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press and posted a 41-inch vertical leap.

Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan likened Beasley's combine effort to Mike Mamula's breathtaking showing at the 1995 combine. Mamula, a pass-rusher from Boston College, was selected seventh overall by the Philadelphia Eagles and played for five seasons, but never became a star.

"The Mamula one jumps out at you but the difference is, Vic Beasley's a baller," said Ryan, whose son Seth is a Clemson wide receiver. "I knew Beasley would blow it away, but he also led the nation in sacks and everything else. The guy is a great football player. It's not like it's a fluke, any of Beasley's numbers. The kid is a phenomenal athlete."

Beasley showed off a bit more of his athleticism while going through individual position drills Thursday in front of the likes of Ryan, New England coach Bill Belichick, Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly and Arizona general manager Steve Keim. Beasley floated through the exercises with ease, although he had to laugh at himself when he tripped at the finish line during one agility drill.

So what else did Beasley have to prove?

"That linebacker [drill] and what I did today just showcased that I'm a versatile player and able to rush, like I did at Clemson, and I'm able to drop in space," he said.

Beasley said he is getting more attention from teams that run 3-4 defenses than he is from 4-3 teams, but that he's ready to adjust to any scheme. Leonard Williams of USC is considered the best defensive prospect in the draft, but Beasley's name continues to be associated with the top edge rushers: Nebraska's Randy Gregory, Missouri's Shane Ray and Fowler.

Being the first of those four to be drafted would mean something to Beasley, even if he tried to downplay the significance.

"You want to go out there on the field and think you're the best," Beasley said. "You want to play like the best. You want to play with an edge. You can't think that you're the second guy. Everybody's aiming for No. 1, and that's what I need to be out there on the field."

The Cardinals, with the 24th overall pick, are looking for pass-rushers. Beasley more than likely won't be available then. That didn't stop Keim from gushing over Beasley's ability while dissecting the top-tier pass-rushers in this year's draft.

"It's a great group of pass-rushers, but you go back to what really matters, and that's the tape," Keim said. "I say it all the time: We go out in the fall and we fall in love with players and in the springtime, we confuse ourselves. But then you have a player like Vic Beasley who not only looks great in workouts, but also backs it up on tape with his get-off, his ability to bend the corner, his ability to rush the passer. When you have the complete package like that, it's a little different.

"In general, you have to be careful about how much stock you put into these workouts because the tape really tells the truth of what the player really is."

The tape says Beasley could be on the verge of stardom.