Clemson just lost a potential first-round NFL talent

Clemson's Isaiah Battle won't play for the Tigers this fall and will enter the NFL Supplemental Draft.

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Many in the NFL scouting community were surprised when word spread that Clemson’s starting left tackle, Isaiah Battle, was entering this summer’s Supplemental Draft.

Battle, listed by Clemson at 6-foot-7, 290, is regarded by one of the two major NFL scouting bureaus as the second-highest ranked offensive tackle prospect behind Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley — a projected top-10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft — among the senior class. Entering this season, the scouting bureau also had Battle projected as a potential first-round pick, sliding into the back of the round.

"This news came totally out of nowhere," said one NFL scout Thursday, who called Battle a major talent. "He’s actually about 6-6, 326 with 35-inch (long) arms and he can run. He’s a little high-cut, but he’s 6-6, not 6-3, so that’s kind of expected."

Asked how tough Battle is, the scout said "he played tough as hell" in the Tigers’ game he attended.

The 22-year-old Battle, a Brooklyn, N.Y., native, started 11 games for Clemson in 2014 and four games in 2013. He cited personal reasons for his decision to leave Clemson at this time.

"I have some family matters to address, with a child due this summer, and I feel it is in my best interest to enter the NFL Supplemental Draft," Battle said. "I want to thank everyone at Clemson, especially Coach (Dabo) Swinney and the assistant coaches, for what they have done for me the last three years. I also want to thank my teammates. They have all had a big impact on my career."

Battle did have several discipline issues while at Clemson. In 2013, he was suspended one game for punching an NC State defensive back during a game. Earlier this month, The Clemson Insider reported that Battle was pulled over for speeding and as a result was caught with simple possession of marijuana and given a citation.

The date of when this year’s Supplemental Draft will be held is still to be determined. Last year, it was held on July 10. Any team drafting a player in the Supplemental Draft selects them and therefore gives up their pick in the corresponding round of the NFL Draft the following year. Whether Battle is worth a big gamble remains to be seen. No player has been taken in the Supplemental Draft since 2012 when the Cleveland Browns took Baylor wideout Josh Gordon in the second round.

In the next few days, folks in the NFL scouting world will be hustling to gather more intel on Battle, especially the off-the-field stuff.

Bruce Feldman is a senior college football reporter and columnist for FOXSports.com and FOX Sports 1. He is also a New York Times Bestselling author. His new book, The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks, came out in October, 2014. Follow him on Twitter @BruceFeldmanCFB.

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