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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.