Want to be picked in the NFL draft? Move to Rock Hill, S.C.


Jadeveon Clowney is the latest NFL draft prospect to hail from Rock Hill. (Associated Press)

Western Pennsylvania is the Cradle of Quarterbacks. The state of Ohio is the Cradle of Coaches. Rock Hill, S.C., is the, um, Bassinet of Ballers? The Delivery Room of Draft Picks? The Epicenter of Upside?

In any case, a startling number of football players have been plucked from the small city of 66,000 about 25 miles south of Charlotte, the most recent being Jadeveon Clowney, who will be one of the first names called — if not the first name — in Thursday night’s NFL draft.

Chris Low of ESPN.com explains:

Clowney will become the third straight player from one of the three Rock Hill high schools to hear his name called in the first round, a distinction no other city or town in America can claim.

Not Miami. Not Los Angeles. Not Dallas. At least not during the past three years. …

When Clowney bursts out of the green room later Thursday evening to shake hands with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, he will become the fifth player from Rock Hill to be drafted in the past three years.

In all, Rock Hill has had 11 NFL draft picks in the last 13 years. As Low points out, that number tops more populated areas such as Charlotte; Oakland, Calif.; Compton, Calif.; Nashville; Orlando; Columbus, Ohio; and Austin over that span.

Sure, only three of those players — Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, Saints tight end Benjamin Watson and Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph — are still playing. Nevertheless, it’s an impressive pipeline.

[EDIT 2:57: ESPN left out DeVonte Holloman, Tori Gurley, Stephon Gilmore and Phillip Adams.]

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