NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
Our 2013 NFL Draft and College Football previews get underway with the Atlantic Coast Conference. We start off the coverage by taking a team by team look at the top Senior prospects on each team heading into the college football season.
Matthew Elder has the top sleepers in the ACC as well.
The ACC is loaded with talented prospects who could end up going in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Players such as Logan Thomas, David Amerson, Bjoern Werner, Xavier Rhodes will receive a lot of attention this year, but the problem for this article is that none of those players are Seniors.
While the underclassman talent is abundant, the Senior talent in the ACC is lacking. Here is a team by team look at the top Senior NFL Draft Prospects for the upcoming season.
1. Montel Harris, RB – Montel Harris technically isn’t a Boston College football player as he was dismissed from the football team last month. When healthy Harris is a steady ball carrier. Harris isn’t overly fast or big, but has good balance and vision, but he has to prove he’s healthy.
2. Kaleb Ramsey, DT – Ramsey is another talented but often injured Boston College player. He profiles as a 4-3 DT who can get into the backfield and shoot the gap. Could be a late round pick with a good final year.
3. Chris Pantale, TE – Pantale is one of the most underrated tight ends in the country. At 6’6″ 251 Pantale presents a big athletic target. Pantale’s numbers have taken a hit because of the anemic Boston College offense, but look for the Wayne, NJ native to led the Eagles in receiving and should get a serious look from the NFL.
4. Emmett Cleary, OT – Cleary is the next in a long line of big athletic offensive tackles. Cleary stands 6’7″ 303 pounds and can move well for his size. Cleary and the BC O-Line as a whole struggled to pass block last year and he has to show improvement in that area to get a legitimate shot at the NFL.
1. Andre Ellington, RB – Ellington is one of the top Senior runners in the country. A fast, elusive and explosive back Ellington is a threat to go the distance each time he touches the ball. Ellington ran for 1178 yards and seriously considered entering the NFL Draft last year. I would look for Ellington to easily surpass those numbers this season.
2. Rashard Hall, FS – Hall is one of the top Free Safeties in the ACC and the leader of the Clemson secondary. He’s improved his coverage and ability to read plays quicker each year.
3. Dalton Freeman, OC – Freeman is one of the top Center prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft. At 6’4″ 285 pounds Freeman has ideal size for the center position. Freeman moves very well for his size and has a real shot at being drafted in the first five rounds.
4. Mallicah Goodman, DE – Every year it seems like Clemson has an athletic DE prospect and this year is no different. Goodman played in a rotation last year, but with Clemson dealing with big losses along the DL Goodman will get his chance to shine. Goodman has prototypical 4-3 DE size and is known as one of the physically strongest players on the Clemson team.
5. Xavier Brewer, CB – Brewer is one player to really keep an eye on this year as he could move up draft boards quickly. Winner of the 12th man award last year, Brewer was able to break up 6 passes, intercept one and total 39 solo tackles. Look for Brewer to be one of the best corners in the ACC this year.
1. Sean Renfree, QB – Renfree might be the best quarterback in the country that no one knows about. Renfree has NFL size and an adequate NFL arm. Under the tutelage of Coach Cutcliffe, I would look for Renfree to have a huge year. His decision making has to get better, but he should get a shot at the next level.
2. Conner Verner, WR – Vernon is Renfree’s go to receiver, catching 143 balls over the past two seasons. While Vernon isn’t overly fast or athletic, he is a smart and reliable WR.
1. Brandon Jenkins, DE/OLB – After a massive breakout season in 2010 where he had 13.5 sacks, Jenkins’ numbers declined a bit last season. Jenkins is one of the top 3 senior pass rushers and probably could have been drafted in the top three rounds this year. At 6’3 260 pounds Jenkins is a bit of a tweener and profiles best to OLB at the next level.
2. EJ Manuel, QB – Manuel is one of the most intriguing prospects to watch this fall. Blessed with great size, good athleticism and a great arm Manuel has all the tools to be an NFL QB. Manuel is still learning how to be a QB and has to improve his decision making in the pocket and prove that he can win the big game. Manuel’s stock could rise or fall more than any other players in the ACC this year.
3. Dustin Hopkins, K – Hopkins is the best returning kicker in the country and has a shot to be drafted next April.
4. Greg Reid, CB – An undersized but feisty and tough corner. Reid is one of the most exciting players to watch in the ACC because of the multiple ways he impacts the game. Not only is Reid an instinctive CB he is one of the top return man in the country, returning a punt for a TD each of his first three years at FSU.
5. Tank Carradine, DE – A JUCO transfer who doesn’t get the hype of the other FSU defensive ends. Carradine had a productive first year and should put up some pretty good sack numbers as a Senior.
6. Everett Dawkins, DT – Florida State isn’t just loaded with defensive ends who can rush the passer, they have DTs who can push the pocket as well. Dawkins in their best interior lineman and should put up some impressive numbers with all the attention paid to the defensive ends.
7. Nick Moody, SS – Moody is a big physical, hard hitting strong safety. At 6’2″ 225 pounds Moody might have to move to LB at the next level. One thing is certain, Moody can lay the wood, just ask Jeff Demps.
1. Omoregie Uzzi, OG – Uzzi is one of the two best OG in the ACC and one of the best in the country. Uzzi is a very good run blocker and is a big reason why the GT run game is so successful.
2. Rod Sweeting, CB – Sweeting really emerged last season as one of the top CBs in the ACC. Sweeting will likely draw the opposing teams top WR, so he will get plenty of opportunities to show he’s an NFL caliber CB.
3. Orwin Smith, RB – Smith is the player who makes the GT offense go. Not only is he the best RB on the roster he is also one of the most productive receiving threats and the top kick returner. Smith should put up huge numbers in the triple option this year.
1. Kenny Tate, SS/OLB – Tate is a tough player to figure out. He is by far the best pro prospect on the Terrapins, but his position has always been the big question. Tate started his career out as a SS and moved to OLB, which he will have to play at the next level, because he is just too big for safety. Tate is a tremendous athlete for his size and could be a 2nd-3rd round draft pick if he adjusts well to the new position.
2. Joe Vellano, DT – Vellano is hard working, blue collar DT. He’s not a great athlete and doesn’t have the movement skills as many of the top DTs, but Vellano simply outworks more talented players. A first team All-ACC player Vellano is poised for a big senior year, but is coming off a foot injury in spring ball.
3. Matt Furstenberg, TE – Furstenberg was one of the top TE recruits coming out of HS and has shown flashes of breaking out each of the last two seasons. A great athlete for the position Furstenberg should challenge Pantale for the top tight end in the ACC.
1. Ray Ray Armstrong, SS – Armstrong is a huge (6’4″ 220 lbs.) safety who has been highly touted since the minute he stepped on campus. Armstrong has yet to put everything together. If Armstrong has a big season and shows improvement he could be a borderline first round pick.
2. Vaughn Telemaque, FS – Telemaque along with Armstrong forms the top safety combination in the ACC.
3. Mike James, RB – Big things were expected from Mike James as a junior and he was a major disappointment. James dealt with fumble and consistency issues all season. With Lamar Miller bolting to the NFL James will be giving every opportunity to be the bell cow for the Hurricanes.
4. Brandon McGee, CB – McGee started every game as a junior and played well. McGee like GT CB Rod Sweeting will be put in the spotlight more as a Senior.