McCloud put on a show at Clemson’s Pro Day 

Former Clemson wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud could have benefited by returning to school for his senior season.

“I prayed about it,” McCloud said Thursday. “I woke up one morning and said it was time to go.” 

There’s no turning back now.

McCloud went to the NFL scouting combine and performed for NFL scouts at Clemson’s Pro Day. He dazzled as he went through wide receiver and defensive back drills. When he was finished with that, he went outside and caught punts for about 40 scouts, including a representative from the Falcons. 

“He did everything and a little bit more of what they needed him to do today,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said.

McCloud, from Tampa, was a running back coming out of high school. He was moved to wide receiver at Clemson and went on to catch 127 passes for 1,226 yards and four touchdowns. Last season, he also played some defensive back for the Tigers.

“I think he was a very big bright spot today,” Swinney said. “He really helped himself. He was outstanding. 

“He was very good in all areas. He ran great. He was too heavy at the combine. He tried to run at 190, and he didn’t play at 190. He ran great today and did all of the work. 

“He has unbelievable ball skills, showed very good route running. Showed some good stuff in the slot. He caught some punts and then also did some (defensive back) work with him. He really shined in every area.”

McCloud has been training in Florida with former NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

“I’ve been learning so much,” McCloud said. “He’s been passing along his knowledge and showing me different techniques every day.” 

McCloud sensed that he had a good day.

“I’ve been working since Jan. 9 after we played Bama, so I wanted to showcase that,” McCloud said. “I came here and showed them that I could run. I can gain weight, but I have to do it the proper way.”

Former Clemson wide receiver Deon Cain is the school’s top prospect. He’s hoping to follow in the footsteps of recent Clemson first-round picks Mike Williams (2017), Sammy Watkins (2014) and De’Andre Hopkins (2013).

He caught 130 passes for 2,040 yards and 20 touchdowns. 

“That’s one of things that I was telling the scouts is that Deon and Ray Ray have only played wide receiver for two and a half years,” Swinney said. “They didn’t spend four years in high school playing wide receiver. Ray-Ray played running back in high school, and he played some defense, too. Deon played quarterback. So, these are guys who have only played the position two-and-a-half years. The best football for them is still in front of them.”

Cain is a projected second- or third-round pick. 

“Deon has the foundation that he needs now to become an elite, great receiver,” Swinney said. “I wish I could have kind of finished the race with him, but he was ready to go. I definitely think he’ll be a better pro.”

The Tigers had 17 players work out, but only seven -- and no projected first-rounders – made’s top-500 player list. 

“I was out here to watch these guys compete,” Swinney said. “Some of these guys are living the dream of having a Pro Day. It’s a big hurdle for them. …I’m proud of them. It was a good group. Not a big group. Next year, we might have to have Pro Week.” 

Cain had a poor day tracking the ball on deep passes and dropped two deep passes.

Clemson’s other NFL prospects are guard Taylor Hearn (fourth round/fifth round), linebacker Dorian O’Daniel (fifth/sixth), defensive back Van Smith (seventh/free agent), offensive guard Tyrone Crowder (seventh/free agent) and center Justin Falcinelli (free agent). 

It was McCloud who helped himself the most.

“Ray-Ray was very unpolished as a receiver,” Swinney said. “He’s become a good route runner. He understands things and has a very smart football I.Q. That’s how he was able to go play defense. 

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Atlanta Falcons

VOTE: How many games will Falcons win in 2018?
VOTE: How many games will Falcons win in 2018?

The Atlanta Falcons will open the 2018 season against the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in a rematch of last season’s NFC Divisional Playoff Game. » Game-by-game breakdown: 2018 Falcons schedule The Eagles are already favored to win the first game. Atlanta will play its three divisional rivals within the first six weeks...
Falcons have a gaping hole at defensive tackle 
Falcons have a gaping hole at defensive tackle 

The Falcons’ board is set for the draft, which runs Thursday through Saturday in Arlington, Texas. The question is not if the Falcon will select a defensive tackle, it’s when they will do so.  The Falcons have a gaping hole at defensive tackle with the departure of starter Dontari Poe. He signed with the Panthers in free agency...
Falcons schedule: Game-by-game breakdown
Falcons schedule: Game-by-game breakdown

The Falcons’ 2018 schedule was released on Thursday night and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Falcons beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter broke down each opponent for the upcoming season. After the exhibition schedule, the Falcons will play at the Eagles in a rematch of last year’s NFC Divisional Playoff game to kick off the NFL season. Friday...
Trust Thomas Dimitroff to draft for Falcons? Here’s why you should
Trust Thomas Dimitroff to draft for Falcons? Here’s why you should

Has Thomas Dimitroff redeemed himself? Eleven drafts into his gig the Atlanta Falcons’ general manager, the son of a former coach and longtime scout, the former kid who cut grass and lined the field as a member of the Cleveland Browns’ groundscrew, has certainly come a long way. » Jeff Schultz: Time to forget Falcons&rsquo...
Dimitroff ready to move up for right player 
Dimitroff ready to move up for right player 

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn tinkered with the team’s digital draft board on Thursday. The NFL Draft is less than a week away and final preparations are being made. Dimitroff wouldn’t reveal the rankings or how much a player was shifted up or down on the ordered list.  The Falcons currently hold the...
More Stories