In terms of ACC draft prospects, the group lost a great deal of its luster when Clemson running back Travis Etienne, Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, Florida State safety Hamsah Nasirildeen and Wake Forest pass rusher Carlos Basham Jr. announced their intentions to return to school for the 2020 season. When you consider this, plus the likelihood that Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence will declare, the ACC will be producing some outstanding talent for the 2021 NFL draft.
As it relates to the 2020 NFL draft, the best ACC draft prospect is Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons. He is a unicorn, as he offers position versatility to play linebacker or safety and there isn’t a defensive scheme he won’t excel in: he’s likely to be a top-10 selection in the draft. However, he isn’t the only prospect from the ACC that will merit a high selection. Let’s take a look at the prospects from the ACC, whom are seeing their 2020 NFL draft prospectus skyrocket.
Mekhi Becton, Left Tackle, Louisville Cardinals (6’7″, 370 pounds)
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah shocked the draft community when he released his first 2020 NFL mock draft and he had Louisville’s mammoth offensive tackle Mekhi Becton being selected by the New York Giants with the fourth pick. Becton wasn’t a first-round lock on most draft analysts’ big boards and was certainly ranked behind the position’s top players such as Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs. The good news, Jeremiah’s jaw-dropping placement of Becton caused many in the draft community, including myself, to take a deeper dive on Becton. Due to his size, he is immediately drawing comparisons to the Las Vegas Raiders’ Trent Brown.
Becton is physically imposing in every sense of the word. He is a physical marvel, capable of complete domination in the run game. In terms of pass protection, he is light on his feet and movers extremely well for a man of his size.
For a man of his stature, the quickness he possesses is impressive.
It’s not normal for a 6’7, 370 pound guy to get to his spot this quick.
— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) January 24, 2020
In terms of ACC draft prospects, Becton is the best player from the conference not named Isaiah Simmons. While I think Jeremiah’s prediction of Becton being a top-5 selection in the 2020 NFL draft is a bit rich, I see no way he isn’t a top-15 selection. In today’s NFL, it is paramount that you invest in protecting the quarterback and Becton can fill that role marvelously.
Jason Strowbridge, Defensive Tackle, North Carolina (6’5″, 267 pounds)
Jason Strowbridge is another ACC draft prospect on the rise after a strong showing at the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl. His play was so impressive in Mobile that he made Pro Football Network draft contributor Matt Valdovinos’ breakdown of “2020 Senior Bowl Risers: Jordan Love headlines Tuesday’s list” from the second day of Senior Bowl practices. The beauty of a player like Strowbridge is that he can line up at any position along the defensive line, whether it be a 1-tech, 3-tech or 5-tech. Also, he offers tremendous scheme versatility.
He possesses good size and exhibits the ability to explode off the snap, which allows him to create consistent penetration. Strowbridge has violent hands, which is evident in his powerful punch and excels as a stout run defender. While he hasn’t put everything together as a pass rusher, he has coachable tools and some traits that will have NFL teams excited to work with him.
Below, you will see a clip of Strowbridge dominating Connecticut left tackle Matt Peart during Senior Bowl week. Watch how he uses his hands to rip through Peart’s attempt to block him…impressive.
Jason Strowbridge annihilates Matt Peart here. Strowbridge has made himself some money this week pic.twitter.com/T0RPTi0jv6
— Tyler Forness (@CCSTheRealForno) January 23, 2020
Throughout Senior Bowl practices, Strowbridge dominated most of his one-on-one reps. In the clip below, you will get to see his power and relentless effort.
It’s been almost a week but I still cannot believe how dominant Jason Strowbridge looked at the Senior Bowl this year. Seemed like he won majority of the 1v1 reps. Just so explosive and powerful. pic.twitter.com/TJgj0ZFKg4
— Daniel Valente (@StatsGuyDaniel) January 29, 2020
Jason Strowbridge entered Senior Bowl week as a late round selection; however, his impressive week in Mobile might have elevated him to a fourth round selection in the 2020 NFL draft.
FINAL ACC DRAFT PROSPECT BIG BOARD
|7||Cam Akers||RB||Florida State||JR|
|9||Larrell Murchison||DT||North Carolina State||SR|
|13||A.J. Dillon||RB||Boston College||SR|
|15||Essang Bassey||CB||Wake Forest||SR|
|16||Reggie Floyd||Safety||Virginia Tech||SR|