The Atlantic Coast Conference is not the powerhouse that is the Big Ten or the super Southeastern Conference; however, it still has its share of riveting draft prospects. In fact, the powerhouse Clemson Tigers, who are ranked the number-one team in college football heading into the season, roster players such as Tee Higgins, Travis Etienne and A.J. Terrell to name a few.
Also, the ACC has some promising draft prospects that are currently flying under the radar. Below, we will take a look at ten of these players that might not be on the tip of the tongue for the average football fan, but are certainly on the minds of NFL scouts.
10. Sean Riley – Wide receiver – Syracuse (5’8″, 170 pounds, Senior)
One thing that is not on Syracuse wide receiver Sean Riley’s side is his size. He is small; however, there is a place on most NFL rosters for a crafty slot-receiver with the ability to create yards after the catch.
Riley, a 2nd team ACC preseason All-American, also adds value as one-of-the nation’s top punt returners. His name won’t be called early, yet Riley has NFL value and is an exciting player to watch. He will find himself on an NFL roster as a special teams ace.
9. Kenny Cooper – Interior offensive line – Georgia Tech (6’3″, 317 pounds, Senior)
Since arriving to Georgia Tech, Kenny Cooper has seen playing time. He was one-of-six players that saw playing time as a true freshman. Since then, he has started 18 games at center for the Yellow Jackets. He is a tough, gritty player that can overwhelm his opposition with pure strength.
In terms of his NFL draft prospects, he is the best interior offensive linemen in the ACC. He is far from a finished prospect; however, he has the tools to develop into a future NFL starter.
8. Charlie Heck – Offensive tackle – North Carolina (6’8″, 315 pounds, Senior)
Charlie Heck, the 1st team preseason ACC All American, utilizes his length to overcome opposing pass-rushers. His length, play ability to anchor and his ability to excel as a run blocker are Heck’s biggest strengths.
One wart on Heck is that he is exclusively a right tackle, as he lacks the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL. With that said, Heck is the type of player that will be drafted in the middle rounds and ultimately find a home on an NFL roster.
7. Myles Dorn – Safety – North Carolina (6’2″, 205 pounds, Senior)
Myles Dorn has the size and play-making ability to be an impact player in the NFL. Dorn, the best safety in the ACC, is a tackling machine that has also displayed strong ball skills. He is not only a gem on the football field, as you will hear his teammates constantly rave about Dorn’s leadership.
Pro Football Network’s own Tony Pauline currently has Myles Dorn projected to go in the second round.
6. Essang Bassey – Cornerback – Wake Forest (5’10”, 190 pounds, Senior)
Essang Bassey put NFL scouts on notice in 2017, as he started every game for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons as a sophomore. Bassey is extremely smooth and fluid in his movement and demonstrates tremendous ball skills on a consistent basis.
The dilemma with Bassey is his size, which tends to be an issue for him when battling with larger, more physical wide receivers. However, due to his exceptional quickness and knack for the football, Bassey will be a quality nickel-cornerback in the NFL. He reminds me much of Baltimore Ravens’ Tavon Young, whom recently was awarded a handsome contract extension.
5. Trevon Hill – Edge – Miami (6’3″, 245 pounds, Senior)
Trevon Hill was a member of the Virginia Tech football team for 29 games spanning over two-and-a-half years, before he was dismissed from the team in 2018. His dismissal stemmed from a heated argument he had with a member of the Hokies staff during a game which they ended up losing to Old Dominion.
Now Hill finds himself a member of a talented Miami Hurricane defense, with a golden opportunity to elevate his draft status. Hill bursts off the snap well and has an arsenal of pass-rush techniques at his disposal. He uses a blend of speed and power to win against opposing offensive tackles. In an NFL where chasing the quarterback is paramount, Hill has a future as a rotational defensive linemen. For him to become a more impact player, he must develop as a run defender.
4. Trajan Bandy – Cornerback – Miami (5’9″, 190 pounds, Junior)
Trajan Bandy, a first team ACC preseason All American, is a rising cornerback to be excited about. Bandy started all 13 games in 2018, where he wracked up three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and eight passes defended. In addition of being an ascending NFL draft prospect, Bandy doubles as one of the best trash talkers in college football.
Giving his unimpressive height, there will be a line of naysayers when it comes to Bandy; however, he has borderline elite traits that will make him a top-100 selection in the 2020 NFL draft.
3. Reggie Floyd – Safety – Virginia Tech (6’0″, 222 pounds, Senior)
Reggie Floyd is a big, physical safety that offers range and is a plus run defender. He tends to be over-aggressive at times; however, Floyd’s game offers far more pros than cons.
Also, the versatile safety from Virginia Tech brings tremendous football IQ to the table. With a strong 2019 campaign it would not surprise me in the least if Floyd ends up a top-100 selection in the 2020 NFL draft.
2. Larrell Murchison – Defensive tackle – North Carolina State (6’3″, 291 pounds, Senior)
Larrell Murchison became a starter for the Wolf Pack in 2018, starting all 13 games. He is blazing fast off of the snap, which allows him to consistently penetrate the line of scrimmage. He uses a strong punch and violent hands to dominate opposing offensive linemen.
Murchison offers scheme versatility as he can play a five-technique in a 3-4 defensive or a three-technique in a 4-3 defense. He enters the 2019 NCAA season as one of the best interior linemen in the ACC and a candidate on the Outland Trophy Watch List.
1. Alton Robinson – Edge – Syracuse (6’4″, 260 pounds, Senior)
Want bold? Alton Robinson is the best edge defender in the ACC and will be a top-50 selection in the 2020 NFL draft.
First, Robinson has the prototypical length and size that NFL teams covet in today’s pass-rusher. Standing a hair over 6’4″, built lean and mean, Robinsons length is impressive.
Second, Robinson is quite productive. In 2018, Robinson tallied 10 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries.
Finally, Robinson possesses an elite first step, good ability to bend and joggers game-changing speed off of the edge. While he has a full season to perfect his craft, early draft buzz surrounding Robinson screams potential first-round pick.
Neal Driscoll is a writer for PFN covering the NFL Draft. You can follow him @NealDriscoll on Twitter.