2020 ACC Preseason Summer Scouting Preview

Tony Pauline continues his early look at the 2021 NFL Draft with his 2020 Preseason Summer Scouting Series. In this edition, he examines the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

My early look at the prospects that may be available in the 2021 NFL Draft moves forward over the next two weeks as we dive into our second “Power Five” conference. Last week, my 2020 Preseason Summer Scouting series took a look at the Big Ten Conference. This week it’s the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), a conference that is headlined by perhaps the best quarterback in the country.

2020 Preseason Summer Scouting Series
AAC | ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | MAC | MW | Pac-12 | SEC

The final installment has been released, meaning the entire ACC is now available. To view my grades and projected draft rounds for ACC draft-eligible prospects, scroll to the end of the article.

Page 1: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State
Page 2: Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami (FL)
Page 3: North Carolina, NC State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Page 4: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

2020 ACC Preseason Summer Scouting 

Boston College Eagles

The Eagles are under new management, as longtime coach Steve Addazio was shown the door after last season. As is usually the case, Boston College is loaded with offensive linemen and prospects with great upside who watched their games stagnate under Addazio.

Alec Lindstrom, the younger brother of former Eagles lineman Chris Lindstrom, is a dynamic center with great bloodlines. The younger Lindstrom is tough and strong, and he shows ability blocking in motion. If he takes his game to the next level, Lindstrom could move into the second day of the draft.

Related | Can Alec Lindstrom continue Boston College offensive line legacy?

Zion Johnson is well-liked in the scouting community, and scouts I’ve spoken with stamp him as a mid-round choice. That’s easy to understand if you watch the Notre Dame film, as Johnson looked quick, athletic, and dominant. At the top of his game, he controls opponents at the line and shows a lot of skill blocking in motion. But there’s a lot of inconsistency in his game, and all too often Johnson was falling off blocks and lacked balance.

If Johnson meets expectations and plays at a high level throughout the 2020 season, I would imagine we will see him at the Senior Bowl and in the draft’s initial 125 picks.

In my opinion, Brandon Sebastian epitomizes the Addazio era; he’s a player who looked great early in his career, but he never progressed. Sebastian plays physical football and possesses solid ball skills, but like Zion Johnson, he shows too much inconsistency on the field. Sebastian has two more years to elevate his game and improve his draft stock.

Clemson Tigers

Few programs besides Alabama and Ohio State can match Clemson’s impact on the NFL Draft in recent years, and 2021 could mark a milestone for the program.

Trevor Lawrence made such an impact as a true freshman at Clemson that former starting quarterback Kelly Bryant transferred from the program. Almost from the beginning, Lawrence was anointed as a franchise quarterback in the NFL and a player who would eventually be the first pick of the draft. And after breaking down the film, there’s no reason to doubt any of that.

Lawrence possesses all the skills to carry a team in the NFL — physical, mental, and intangible. He does an incredible job leading the offense, possesses the ability to make all the throws, and consistently makes proper choices. Lawrence is a big-bodied pocket passer, but he possesses the foot speed to pick up big yardage with his legs.

Barring injury, Lawrence will be the first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft and has an exciting future ahead of him in the NFL.

Related | Quarterback Charting: Is Clemson Tigers QB Trevor Lawrence a “generational” prospect?

Lawrence’s favorite target, Justyn Ross, also looked like he had an exciting NFL future, but that’s been put on hold after recent neck surgery. Ross is a big-bodied wideout with reliable hands who comes up with the big play. He’s not a speedster and now has a serious medical issue that must be thoroughly checked out.

Travis Etienne is a terrific running back who produces as a ball carrier and pass catcher. He has excellent size but lacks the true breakaway speed (scouts estimate Etienne to run a 4.55 40-yard dash), which will limit his draft grade.

Derion Kendrick will be the next bigtime corner from the Clemson program, as he brings size, athleticism and physicality.

Jordan Williams shows great potential and flashed dominance last season. I expect Williams to take on a much bigger role this season and move up draft boards.

Reminder: To view my grades and projected draft rounds for ACC draft-eligible prospects, scroll to the end of the article.

Duke Blue Devils

Duke is one of the best-coached teams in the nation, and it’s a program that is always competitive. Duke has had three players drafted since 2015, two of whom were first-round picks. They’ll have a player drafted next year, although it will be of the mid-round variety.

Noah Gray is a tall, fluid pass catcher with dependable hands. While he gives effort as a blocker, Gray is more of a move tight end who can be used in the slot.

Featured | Cummings’ 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft

Shaka Heyward is a physical linebacker who shows a lot of potential. He’s explosive up the field and also shows a lot of ability in pursuit.

Junior corner Josh Blackwell is another with terrific upside. He lacks great size, but he has outstanding ball skills and shows a lot of ability to make plays with his back to the ball.

Florida State Seminoles

“How the mighty have fallen” can be the subtext for the Florida State program over the past half-dozen years. They could quickly turn it around under new head coach Mike Norvell though, as the team has a ton of talent that mostly projects well to the next level.

All the top FSU prospects can be found on defense, with three of them along the defensive line.

Cory Durden is a big-bodied lineman with great explosion and power who manhandles opponents and flashes big-play potential. Durden needs to take his game to the next level, but I love his upside.

Marvin Wilson is a gap occupier who flashes playmaking skills. He hustles and works hard, but Wilson lacks great upside. I still think he’ll be very good on the inside of a 4-3.

Keep an eye on Joshua Kaindoh, a terrific pass rusher with great size and upside. Kaindoh showed a lot of potential in 2018 before he was sidelined most of last season due to injury. If he builds upon his flashes of 2018, Kaindoh could move to the top of the FSU draft board.

Asante Samuel Jr. is a physical cover corner who plays tough, aggressive football and sits atop my FSU board. He flies around the action and, more importantly, shows great man-to-man skills. Samuel will measure barely 5-foot-10, which will hurt his draft stock, but he’ll make a great nickel back at the next level.

Amari Gainer fits the mold of today’s NFL linebacker — smaller, explosive, and fast. He has safety size and speed, but he plays with a linebacker mentality. Gainer is outstanding in pursuit, covers a lot of area and plays physical football. He also shows a lot of force on the blitz.

Reminder: To view my grades and projected draft rounds for ACC draft-eligible prospects, scroll to the end of the article.

Page 1: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State
Page 2: Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami (FL)
Page 3: North Carolina, NC State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Page 4: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

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