With the college football season a mere two weeks away, becoming familiar with the talent that fills the ACC is paramount. As mentioned previously here at Pro Football Network, numerous ACC prospects boast excellent skill sets, suggesting a smooth transition to the NFL level. But until the 2020 NFL Draft finally arrives, fans will need to remain patient and watch an exciting college football season proceed.
With that being said, PFN’s 2020 NFL Draft writers are taking the time to analyze their respective conferences and select their All-Conference teams.
Without further ado, here is the PFN 2019 All-ACC First Team:
- QB – Trevor Lawrence | Clemson
- Honorable Mention: Bryce Perkins | Virginia
- RB – Travis Etienne | Clemson
- HM: Deon Jackson | Duke
- WR – Damon Hazelton Jr. | Virginia Tech
- WR – Tamorrion Terry | Florida State
- WR – Justyn Ross | Clemson
- TE – Brevin Jordan | Miami (FL)
- HM: Carl Tucker | North Carolina
- OL – Charlie Heck | North Carolina
- OL – John Simpson | Clemson
- OL – Jimmy Morrissey | Pittsburgh
- OL – Mekhi Becton | Louisville
- OL – Tremayne Anchrum | Clemson
- HM: Sean Pollard | Clemson
- HM: Ben Petrula | Boston College
Trevor Lawrence is head and shoulders above the nation in quarterbacking. The former #1 ranked high school prospect in 2017 took over the starting job for the Clemson Tigers just four weeks into the season last year and never looked back. The now true sophomore logged 30 touchdown passes to only four interceptions in his freshman year. The ACC Rookie of the Year is poised for a monster campaign this coming season. Lawrence isn’t eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft, but he’s already considered by many to be the top pick for the 2021 NFL Draft.
If it weren’t for the impeccable talent of Lawrence, Bryce Perkins would have earned this nod. Considering he blew up the conference and led the Cavaliers to their first winning record in some time, Perkins should have much more spotlight on him. Not to mention, he’s draft-eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft. Perkins, with a good season, could see himself in talks for being drafted come April.
The running back group is stacked. Travis Etienne is a dynamic running back that flashes game-changing ability. A “cruiser” back in the mold of a hot rod with fantastic speed, Etienne can score from anywhere on the field. If he improves on his receiving skills, he could easily lock down an All-ACC selection, an All-American selection, and possibly a day one selection in April. Deon Jackson earns the mention here because of his speed and well-rounded game. Jackson is a promising NFL talent.
Hazelton is a promising receiver with the body and open field skills to boot. His connection with redshirt senior QB Ryan Willis bolsters his selection for PFN. With an offensive unit returning several key players, including much of the offensive line, Hazelton can elevate his game. Terry and Ross are both electrifying receivers that can score at any point. Ross has the speed to dominate defenders, and Terry is a tall, fast, physical receiver that has it all. Ross isn’t draft-eligible but will be admired with Lawrence in 2021.
Higgins and Emezie are pass catchers with solid, big frames. Their physicality shows in the open field. They earn their mentions because of their consistent talents. The only thing holding them back from a selection is talent ahead of them (Higgins) and loss of key starters (Emezie). Overall, ACC football boasts tremendous receiver talent.
Simply put, Brevin Jordan, though ineligible for the 2020 NFL Draft, is the best tight end in the conference. He should light it up this year. Carl Tucker put up a modest statistical line on one of the worst teams in the nation. With new head coach Mack Brown, the offense should take a step, including Tucker.
The offensive line is full of players that are potential 2020 NFL Draft prospects regardless of hardcore position. Players like Simpson and Anchrum have paved the way for an elite offense, while players like Becton and Heck are promising tackles on inferior teams. Morrissey is the best center in the conference. These are the best lineman the ACC could put together.
- DL- Marvin Wilson | Florida State
- DL- Eli Hanback | Virginia
- HM: Nyles Pinckney | Clemson
- EDGE- Alton Robinson | Syracuse
- EDGE- Kendall Coleman | Syracuse
- EDGE- Xavier Thomas | Clemson
- HM: Jonathan Garvin | Miami (FL)
- LB- Shaquille Quarterman | Miami (FL)
- LB- Michael Pinckney | Miami (FL)
- CB- Bryce Hall | Virginia
- CB- A.J. Terrell | Clemson
- S- Andre Cisco | Syracuse
- S- Damar Hamlin | Pittsburgh
- HM: Tanner Muse | Clemson
Marvin Wilson is going to be a menace of an interior lineman. He’s exceptionally quick, has good athleticism, and a formidable frame. I fully expect him to take the ACC by storm as I’ve previously detailed my love for Wilson’s game and potential.
Eli Hanback is a stout defender in the middle of Virginia’s defense. He’s a consistent run defender, able to close off holes and stack and shed even the most potent interior blockers. But he’s also a promising pass rusher. He has the chance to prove to be a three-down defender, and with the promise UVA has this season, it should be seen televised in rivalry games.
Simply put, Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman are the best pair of pass rushers in ACC football, and maybe in the nation. Together they form a formidable duo that wreaked havoc on opposing offenses to the tune of 20 combined sacks and even more pressures. I fully expect them to take a leap this season so long as they stay healthy. Their potential is uncanny.
Lastly is Xavier Thomas. A back-up at Clemson primarily because of the plethora of talent there last season, Thomas is stepping into the spotlight with elite speed, power, and a stocky frame that gives him natural leverage. He has the chance to prove himself a highly coveted player with a great year, especially if Clemson gets another championship.
There are not many linebacking corps as good as Miami’s group. Quarterman and Pinckney are two athletic, fast, three-down players that can make plays in both the run and pass game. Quarterman is the most accomplished, with stellar stats and a resume including starting since his freshman season. But Pinckney is probably the most versatile and looks to prove his worth next to Quarterman yet again.
A.J. Terrell isn’t far behind, however. Possessing a similar frame and tenacity as Hall, Terrell plays on one of the most high profile programs in the nation, which will afford him opportunities to play some of the best wide receivers. Terrell should step up with this next season starting. If Xavier Thomas takes off, it only makes a cornerback’s game easier. Terrell will earn this spot.
Andre Cisco isn’t eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft, but he’s the best safety in ACC football. Much like Bryce Hall, there’s no comparison. Cisco has the speed to play single-high shells and cover the field. He has excellent ball skills, movement skills, and is aggressive at the catch and tackle points. He’s a lock for All-ACC.
Damar Hamlin is a very underrated safety prospect that overcame two years of injuries to show out in 2018. He finished his season with stellar production, logging a team-high 90 tackles and two interceptions. The entire Pittsburgh secondary is talented, so Hamlin is in a great position to repeat that production.
Felix Davila is a writer for PFN covering the NFL Draft. He is also editor of the AFC North team. You can follow him @DavilaFootball on Twitter.