NFL Draft 2013: Jonathan Cooper, EJ Manuel, Bjoern Werner Among 34 ACC Players Selected

EJ Manuel Was One of 34 ACC Players Selected During Last Week's NFL Draft

Former FSU QB EJ Manuel Was One of 34 ACC Players Selected During Last Week’s NFL Draft

The 2013 NFL Draft is officially in the books after 254 selections from the NFL’s 32 franchises. In total, the ACC saw 31 players chosen in this year’s draft — 34, if you include the three draftees from Syracuse (and for argument’s sake, we will here). That number — regardless of which you decide to use — puts the conference behind just behind the more highly-regarded SEC in terms of NFL-bound talent this season. While not the only thing that counts by any means, moving players on to the NFL resonates with potential recruits, and does help all 14 (15) schools in one way or another.

We’ve included various breakdowns below — from school-by-school, to conference comparisons, an NFL team-by-team list, as well as the full list of ACC players chosen between Thursday and Saturday. Also, stop by later on, to see our compilation of the most confusing non-selections from the ACC, and where those players also ended up.

First 10 ACC Players Selected

No. 7 overall (Round 1): Jonathan Cooper, OG/North Carolina, selected by the Arizona Cardinals

No. 16 overall (Round 1): EJ Manuel, QB/Florida State, selected by the Buffalo Bills

No. 19 overall (Round 1): Justin Pugh, OT/Syracuse, selected by the New York Giants

No. 24 overall (Round 1): Bjoern Werner, DE/Florida State, selected by the Indianapolis Colts

No. 25 overall (Round 1): Xavier Rhodes, CB/Florida State, selected by the Minnesota Vikings

No. 27 overall (Round 1): DeAndre Hopkins, WR/Clemson, selected by the Houston Texans

No. 28 overall (Round 1): Sylvester Williams, DT/North Carolina, selected by the Denver Broncos

No. 37 overall (Round 2): Giovani Bernard, RB/North Carolina, selected by the Cincinnati Bengals

No. 40 overall (Round 2): Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE/Florida State, selected by the San Francisco 49ers

No. 42 overall (Round 2): Menelik Watson, OT/Florida State, selected by the Oakland Raiders

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NFL Draft 2013: Jonathan Cooper, EJ Manuel Among Seven ACC First-Round Picks

Now-Cardinal Jonathan Cooper Was One of Seven ACC Players Selected in Round One

Now-Cardinal Jonathan Cooper Was One of Seven ACC Players Selected in the NFL Draft’s First Round

For those who’ve been hanging with us here on the blog tonight, we’ve been keeping up with every ACC player selected in the 2013 NFL Draft — seven in all — providing some quick thoughts on each pick. All-in-all, there were certainly a few surprises, and needless to say our mock draft (and everyone else’s) was mostly wrong.

We’ll have a full breakdown post-draft next week, but for now, here’s a quick look at all seven ACC players chosen in the first round this evening, with links to our individual stories on each selection. And for those looking for thoughts on the entire NFL Draft, I was conducting a live thread over at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician tonight, going pick-by-pick in the comments. But back to ACC matters…

#7 Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Cooper, OG/North Carolina (Mock Draft: 8th overall)

By the time we got to draft day, Cooper was suddenly being considered a once-in-a-generation guard. And given his speed and size combination up front, and the running game he’s facilitated at UNC, why not? Arizona had one of the NFL’s worst rushing attacks in 2012, and this goes a long way toward fixing that.

#16 Buffalo Bills: EJ Manuel, QB/Florida State (Mock Draft: 43rd overall)

Once Buffalo swapped picks with the Rams, I thought we were perfectly set up for a regular old Syracuse family reunion between Doug Marrone, Nathaniel Hackett and QB Ryan Nassib. Instead, the Bills made one of the more surprising moves of the first round, picking Manuel, who’s seen as a proven commodity by many scouts. He’ll have some ramp to adjust to the pros — the team has Kevin Kolb on the roster as well — but there’s suddenly a lot of weight on Manuel’s shoulders.

#19 New York Giants: Justin Pugh, OT/Syracuse (Mock Draft: 48th overall)

If not for some later moves in the first, THIS would’ve arguably been the biggest reach of the entire round. And that’s not to discredit fellow Syracuse alumnus Justin Pugh, either. But with a glut of elite defenders falling to the later selections, most Giants fans (this one included) seemed convinced they’d go with someone on that side of the ball. Still, Pugh addresses a major need on the line for New York, and will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact. He’s the second straight Syracuse player to go in the top 20 after the Patriots picked Chandler Jones last year.

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NFL Draft 2013: Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins Picked 27th Overall by Houston Texans

DeAndre Hopkins is the First Wide Receiver Off the Board, As He's Picked by Houston

DeAndre Hopkins is the First Wide Receiver Off the Board, As He’s Picked by Houston

ACC players are officially flying off the board as the 2013 NFL Draft continues on. At no. 27 overall, Clemson‘s DeAndre Hopkins has been chosen by the Houston Texans. The junior wide receiver went from virtual unknown last offseason, to a career season in which he rewrote several Tiger records. And now, he’s a member of one of the NFL’s most exciting offenses, lined up across from former Miami Hurricane (and perennial all-pro) Andre Johnson.

Hopkins is the best wide receiver in the draft, and for a team looking to take some pressure off of both Johnson and QB Matt Schaub, he’s the perfect match. His blazing speed, soft hands and solid balance and ball control make him a lethal option on deep throws. As he proved in the Chick-fil-a Bowl this year, he’s a nightmare in the open field and expect him to continue that trend in the pros.

Want to read up on Hopkins a bit more? Check out our Clemson draft preview from last week.

Congrats to DeAndre and his family. We’ll be updating the blog with every first round pick as they happen.



Jonathan Cooper Selected #7 Overall by Arizona Cardinals

EJ Manuel Selected #16 Overall by Buffalo Bills

Justin Pugh Selected #19 Overall by New York Giants

Bjoern Werner Selected #24 Overall by Indianapolis Colts

Xavier Rhodes Selected #25 Overall by Minnesota Vikings

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NFL Draft 2013 Preview: Mock-Drafting Every ACC Prospect

Will Former UNC Guard Jonathan Cooper End Up Being a Top-10 Pick?

Could Former North Carolina Offensive Guard Jonathan Cooper End Up Being a Top-10 Pick?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been evaluating every ACC prospect for the 2013 NFL Draft, giving some quick thoughts on players’ skill sets and what round they may be chosen in. With the draft officially starting tomorrow night, we’ll now be mocking up a quick draft, complete with the teams most likely to choose these players. For those who are not projected to be selected, we’ve avoided predictions, since it’s a pointless exercise in predicting undrafted free agency. Interested in full profiles of every ACC prospect? See the list of team previews at the bottom of the piece.

***First Round

8. Buffalo Bills: Jonathan Cooper, OG/North Carolina (Sr.)

19. New York Giants: Bjoern Werner, DE/Florida State (Jr.)

22. St. Louis Rams: Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE/Florida State (Sr.)

24. Indianapolis Colts: Xavier Rhodes, CB/Florida State (Jr.)

27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR/Clemson (Jr.)

30. Atlanta Falcons: Menelik Watson, OT/Florida State (Jr.)

***Second Round

33. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sylvester Williams, DT/North Carolina (Sr.)

41. Buffalo Bills: Ryan Nassib, QB/Syracuse (Sr.)

43. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: EJ Manuel, QB/Florida State (Sr.)

48. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Pugh, OT/Syracuse (Sr.)

53. Cincinnati Bengals: Giovani Bernard, RB/North Carolina (So.)

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NFL Draft 2013 Preview: Clemson Prospects

DeAndre Hopkins Headlines a Group of Five Former Tigers Awaiting Selection This Month

DeAndre Hopkins Headlines a Group of Five Former Tigers Awaiting Selection This Month

Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 50 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 25 through 27.

Clemson‘s resurgence over the past two seasons has largely been fueled by underclassmen contributors, so the team will once again lose just a few players to the Draft this spring. But also similar to last season, those few players did make a significant impact. Whenever your leading rusher, leading receiver and starting center are all on draft boards, it’s both a blessing and a curse. We’ll see where these Tigers could be selected in a few weeks:

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Junior (Projected: Mid-First Round)

Hopkins’s record-setting junior season has propelled him from well-regarded second receiving option to potential first-round draft pick. Scouts seem to love his blistering speed (his 4.5-second 40-yard dash time is not indicative of how fast he really is), along with his great hands and smart after-catch abilities. While his 6’1″ 200-pound frame is concerning for some, it’s also not a deal breaker for those looking to draft him, as he can certainly add some upper body weight between now and when the season starts. As it stands now, Hopkins may be the top receiver in a very thin class at that position, and may end up being selected as early as the middle of round one.

Andre Ellington, RB, Senior (Projected: Early Third Round)

Similar to Hopkins, the biggest concern around Ellington is his size (5’9″ 190 pounds) and how that will affect his durability as an NFL back in the long-term. Beyond that, however, there’s a lot to like from the speedy rusher who’s already drawing favorable comparisons to former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Atlanta Falcon RB Warrick Dunn. This draft is thin at running back, so there’s always the chance he’s taken far earlier than projected. But given the changing NFL ecosystem away from featured rushers, it could end up dropping him into the latter part of day two of the draft. Of course, that’s not a bad thing, and could potentially provide Ellington with just the chip he needs to excel come camp in July.

Malliciah Goodman, DE, Senior (Projected: Fourth Round)

Despite a limited senior year, Goodman still tallied seven sacks, looking great throughout his final three games in particular (five sacks). While he’s purely a pass-rush threat, there is some thought that the quick (4.67 40-yard dash) and agile end convert to the outside linebacker position for the right team running a 3-4 defensive scheme. With a long frame weighing in at just 276 pounds, it would seem the most natural fit for him, as he’d otherwise be manhandled directly on the line. Expect his name to be called on day three with a real chance to get into a linebacker rotation come the fall.

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ACC Football Top 25 Players of 2012: #3, DeAndre Hopkins

Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins Was Among the ACC's Biggest Surprises During a Record-Setting 2012

Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins Was Among the ACC’s Biggest Surprises During a Record-Setting 2012

As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.

No. 3, DeAndre Hopkins, WR/Clemson (Preseason Rank: NR)

This season was supposed to all about a Clemson receiver differentiating himself from the rest of the nation’s wideouts. But who knew that receiver would be Hopkins, rather than his highly-touted counterpart, Sammy Watkins? From game one though, Hopkins showed himself up to the task of being the Tigers’ top option. First against Auburn, 13 catches and one touchdown, then six catches for three touchdowns versus Ball State — whether Watkins was in the lineup or not, DeAndre Hopkins was a force from game-to-game, scoring at least one touchdown in all but one contest. The junior set Clemson records for touchdown catches in a season (18, in just 13 games) and receiving yards in a season (1,405), while turning himself into one of the nation’s most talked-about offense weapons and now a potential first-round NFL Draft pick. Yes, unfortunately, ‘Nuk will forgo his senior season and a sure-fire shot at a National Championship and potential Heisman Trophy buzz, in exchange for the pros. Where he’s selected is still up in the air, but wherever it may be, they’re inheriting a smart receiver who still has plenty more growth ahead of him.

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2012 ACC Football Season Recap: Clemson Tigers

Tajh Boyd Was Clemson's Star This Year, But He Wasn't the Only Elite Performer

Tajh Boyd Was Clemson’s Star This Year, But He Wasn’t the Only Elite Performer

Team: Clemson Tigers

W-L: 11-2 (7-1)

Postseason: 25-24 Chick-fil-a Bowl win over LSU

Top Offensive Performer: Tajh Boyd, QB

Top Defensive Performer: Jonathan Willard, LB

As a program, Clemson took a big, undeniable step forward in 2012. They beat an elite SEC opponent on a national stage, won 11 games for the first time since 1981, and even effectively put an end to “Clemson-ing.” Unlike their usual hiccup(s), the Tigers ran through a subpar group of ACC opponents this year, winning by an average margin of nearly 24 points against conference teams not named Florida State. And speaking of the Clemson offense, it’s impossible to get through a paragraph about the Tigers without discussing their record-setting high-flying attack led by QB Tajh Boyd and coordinator Chad Morris. Clemson finished sixth in the country in scoring average this season, putting up 41 points per game (one of just eight teams in the FBS to average 40 or more). Boyd, who had a stellar 2011 in his first full year as a starter, truly bloomed as a junior this season. While he didn’t get the Heisman trophy hype he well deserved, the passer showed marked improvement year-over-year, boosting his accuracy (up 7.5 percent) and touchdown passes (three more, in one less game), and managed to boost his running ability as well. With the help of some offseason conditioning, Boyd ran for nearly 300 more yards than he did in 2011, and tallied 10 scores on the ground, too.

And all of this — all the accolades and record-breaking performances — were somehow accomplished without star receiver Sammy Watkins operating at 100-percent (I’d argue he wasn’t even at 50-percent for most of the year). Following an offseason run-in with the law, Watkins was suspended for the first two games, and then missed a third with the flu. He was also a non-factor in the Chick-fil-a Bowl after an injury knocked him out for the game. Instead, it was DeAndre Hopkins that burst onto the scene, to the tune of 82 catches, 1,405 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns. Frighteningly, for the ACC’s defenses, two of this offenses’ stars are back next season.

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