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Summer School

ACC Prospect Preview

by Josh Norris
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

For 2015 season previews we will be posting the top draft-eligible prospects at each position in each conference. Again, draft-eligible is the key here (redshirt sophomore to senior). I am sure someone will be left out, so feel free to leave recommended names in the comments or send them to my twitter account.


Quarterback


FSU senior Everett Golson


Many are questioning Golson’s fit with FSU. Is he exactly like Jameis Winston? E.J. Manuel? No, but Jimbo Fisher won’t coach the identical offense either. The head coach’s smooth yet multiple offense produces big plays thanks to route combinations and clear reads. The key is a quarterback willing to check the ball down and to take care of the football. These are absolutely points Fisher will stress, and stress again, to Golson prior to the season.



Some will immediately place Jacoby Brissett as the top draft-eligible QB in the ACC. I know their interception totals were quite different (14 for Golson, 5 for Brissett), but I saw similar players with Golson showing more inside of structure.


Worth mentioning: NC State’s Jacoby Brissett, UNC’s Marquise Williams



Running Back


Clemson redshirt sophomore Wayne Gallman


My pick for breakout draft-eligible prospect in the ACC. Clemson’s offensive line was less than adequate last year and might not improve this season, but a combination of Deshaun Watson and Mike Williams will absolutely open things up for Gallman.



With the spacing Clemson’s weapons create, Gallman’s upfield explosion and lateral agility could forge a complete offense.


Worth mentioning: Pittsburgh’s James Conner, Louisville’s Brandon Radcliff, Miami’s Gus Edwards, NC State’s Shadrach Thornton.



Wide Receiver


Clemson junior Mike Williams


Tyler Boyd is great, let me start with that. The truth is the two are different types of receivers, so it is up to personal preference. Williams creates separation with speed and complements it with exaggerated movements on his breaks. Boyd is more fluid and posts a lot of production after the catch, where he is very comfortable. Williams is more “big play” and Boyd would succeed in any offense. I’d guess Williams is the superior athlete, but again, both are quality prospects. I expect Williams to take a giant step forward, but it is also amazing Boyd has succeeded despite Pitt’s quarterback play.



Worth mentioning: Pittsburgh’s Tyler Boyd, UNC’s Quinshad Davis, UNC’s Ryan Switzer, Miami’s Stacy Coley


Tight End


Duke redshirt senior Braxton Deaver


This is a weak position group overall. Bucky Hodges flashed last year as a redshirt freshman, but when looking back to 2014 Braxton Deaver really impressed. The Duke tight end is entering his sixth season in college after missing 2015 with a knee injury. I propose the nickname “Van Wilder.” How long has Deaver been in college? He and I faced each other in North Carolina high school lacrosse.


Deaver has the “all around” tight end build and is more than willing to block. He can pick up yards after the catch by running past linebackers or through defensive backs.


Worth mentioning: Virginia Tech’s Bucky Hodges, NC State’s David Grinnage


Offensive Line


UNC senior G Landon Turner


After seeing Ereck Flowers, Cameron Erving, Laken Tomlinson, Tre’ Jackson, T.J. Clemmings, John Miller, Jamon Brown and Shaq Mason exit to the NFL, the ACC’s offensive line prospect pool is a bit shallow.


Turner is an assignment sound interior offensive lineman. He understands size utilization (6’3/325) and not to overextended on his first punch. Turner then moves people off the line in the running game. If there is a downside, I would not call Turner a good athlete for the position. He isn’t stiff, but Turner is not the type to frequently gameplan on the move.


Worth mentioning: Virginia Tech’s Wyatt Teller


Edge Rusher


Virginia Tech senior Dadi Nicolas


Watch Nicolas against Virginia and you see a dominant player. Outside swims, inside spins, winning around the corner, walking tackles back to the quarterback. He showed it all.



Then you watch Nicolas versus Pittsburgh and see Nicolas take inside lines (by design?) and get swarmed by T.J. Clemmings. Virginia Tech should deploy a very talented defense, especially if each member stays healthy. The defensive front will elevate the success of the defensive backs and vice versa.


Worth mentioning: Louisville’s Devonte Fields, Clemson’s Shaq Lawson, Virginia Tech’s Ken Ekanem


Defensive Line


Virginia Tech redshirt senior Luther Maddy


Maddy only played in four contests last season and tweeted to me he only felt fully healthy against ECU. It was easily his best performance. Maddy shows agility from the 3 technique, working upfield or to a different gap on his first step.



Maddy is more of a separation interior rusher than bulldozing, power pusher. Hand use and footwork is critical for that to be successful.


Worth mentioning: Georgia Tech’s Adam Gotsis, Louisville’s Sheldon Rankins


Linebacker


FSU redshirt senior Terrance Smith


Another weak spot for the conference, especially with Duke’s Kelby Brown missing another season. Smith was asked to hold his own in coverage frequently in 2014 and was at least adequate in that area compared to his peers. Expect a new name to emerge at the position in the ACC.


Defensive Back


FSU junior Jalen Ramsey


Ramsey can do it all. We have already seen him excel at corner, the slot, safety and linebacker. There really isn’t much to say here, at least negatively. Ramsey is physical, he is long and athletic. Defensive back and receiver are the top two positions in the conference.


Worth mentioning: Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller, Duke’s Jeremy Cash, Duke’s DeVon Edwards, Virginia Tech’s Brandon Facyson, Clemson’s Mackensie Alexander, Miami’s Artie Burns

Josh Norris

Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for NBC Sports Edge and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .