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NFL Draft: Clemson dominates the initial ACC big board

NFL Draft
Photo Credit: USA Today

The 2019 college football season is off to a fast and furious start. Albeit it being early in the season, it is clear that the reigning national champions, the Clemson Tigers, are heads and shoulders the best team in the Atlantic Coast Conference. As you could imagine, their roster is littered with NFL talent. In fact, the Clemson Tigers have the top-four NFL draft-eligible prospects in the ACC. Those players are running-back Travis Etienne, linebacker Isaiah Simmons, wide receiver Tee Higgins and cornerback A.J. Terrell.

However, they are not the only talented team in the conference. This week Clemson plays a previously ranked Syracuse team that is coming off of a 43-point loss to the talented Maryland Terrapins. How will the Orangemen respond after being dominated? How will their superstar pass-rusher Alton Robinson respond?

Before we take a look at some of the key matchups for the top ACC draft prospects in Week Three, let’s rewind to review the three “ACC Draft Stars” for the second week of the season. 

Week-Two: ACC Draft Stars

Mekhi Becton, Offensive Tackle, Louisville

The mammoth left-tackle was superb against a talented Note Dame defensive line in the season opener. He followed that with an even better Week Two, as he completed dominated Eastern Kentucky.

According to Pro Football Focus, Becton graded out as the second highest pass-blocking and the best run-blocking offensive tackle in the conference. Ultimately, he was named to PFF’s “ACC Team Of The Week”.

In terms of an NFL draft prospect, there is a lot to like about Becton. First, he has an imposing presence and moves quite well for his size. He offers positional versatility, above average ability to bend and plays with good technique. In a modern day NFL where protecting the quarterback is at a premium, Becton has future top-50 draft selection written all over him. Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline mentioned Becton’s name being mentioned by scouts as a second-round selection in his article ACC: Georgia Tech, Louisville, NC State, Pitt, & Syracuse Summer Grades.

Cam Akers, Running Back, Florida State

The Florida State Seminoles do not seem poised to be a good football team in 2019; however, they have a special player in running back Cam Akers. Akers had a record-setting performance against the University of Louisiana Monroe, where he ran for 193 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries. Just as impressive, Akers caught five passes for 55 yards and a receiving touchdown.

Like Becton mentioned above, Akers was also named to PFF’s “ACC Team Of The Week”. You don’t hear his named called with top NFL draft prospects such as Etienne, Jonathan Taylor and D’Andre Swift, but Akers certainly has a future in the NFL. If he continues to play well and prove to be a “jack-of-all-trades” back, his draft stock will soar.

K’Von Wallace, Safety, Clemson

Clemson safety K’Von Wallace caught the attention of NFL scouts across the league with a brilliant performance against the Texas A&M Aggies. Wallace wracked up nine tackles, a sack and a quarterback pressure that led to a Tanner Muse interception. His performance earned him “ACC Player of the Week” honors.

Wallace is a versatile safety that has the physical prowess to make plays at the line of scrimmage and is athletic enough to excel in pass coverage. An inconsistent 2018 campaign caused him to enter this season without a lot of hype; however, if he continues to play like he has early in 2019, he will find himself on NFL scouts’ radars in no time.

Week Three: Key ACC Draft Prospect Matchup

Clemson OT Tremayne Anchrum vs. Syracuse Edge Kendall Coleman

Anchrum, a second-team ALL-ACC selection in 2018, who is playing right tackle at a high level for Clemson right now, projects to kick inside to guard at the next level due to his size (6’2″). He will have his hands full Saturday night, as lining up opposite of him is Syracuse’ excellent pass-rusher Kendall Coleman.

Coleman accounted for 10 sacks in 2018 and his 2019 campaign has started off strong. While his teammate Alton Robinson steals the headlines, Coleman is quietly putting together a nice resume himself. Coleman utilizes great hand technique, strong counters and his ability to bend to terrorize opposing offensive tackles. He is far from a one-dimensional pass-rusher as he is stout against the run  as well. 

Currently, both players are slated as mid-round prospects; however, a strong outing on Saturday night could improve their draft stock a great deal.

2020 NFL Draft-ACC Big Board

Below you will find my initial ACC-only NFL draft big board. The Clemson Tigers dominate the list, accounting for seven of the top-25 draft-eligible players in the conference. 

Rank Player Position School Year
1 Travis Etienne RB Clemson JR
2 Isaiah Simmons LB Clemson JR
3 Tee Higgins WR Clemson JR
4 A.J. Terrell CB Clemson JR
5 Alton Robinson Edge Syracuse SR
6 Shaq Quarterman LB Miami SR
7 Bryce Hall CB Virginia SR
8 Hamsah Nasirildeen Safety Florida State JR
9 Marvin Wilson DT Florida State JR
10 Jonathan Garvin Edge Miami JR
11 Mekhi Becton OT Louisville JR
12 Cam Akers RB Florida State JR
13 Stanford Samuels III CB Florida State JR
14 Charles Snowden LB Virginia JR
15 Reggie Floyd Safety Virginia Tech SR
16 Michael Pinckney LB Miami SR
17 K’Von Wallace Safety Clemson SR
18 Larrell Murchison DT North Carolina State SR
19 Myles Dorn Safety UNC SR
20 A.J. Dillon RB Boston College SR
21 Kenny Cooper OL Georgia Tech SR
22 Essang Bassey CB Wake Forest SR
23 Trajan Bandy CB Miami JR
24 John Simpson OL Clemson SR
25 Tremayne Anchrum OL Clemson SR
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