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: Florida State’s EJ Manuel Picked 16th Overall by Buffalo Bills

EJ Manuel's a First-Round Selection, Picked By the Buffalo Bills to be Their Next QB

EJ Manuel’s a First-Round Selection, Picked By the Buffalo Bills to be Their Next QB

And in a surprise move, the second ACC player is off the board, though not the one we originally thought it would be. The Buffalo Bills, obviously looking for a quarterback, go with Florida State‘s EJ Manuel as their choice at no. 16. Originally, everyone thought that the Doug Marrone (former Syracuse head coach)-coached Bills would be selecting Orange QB Ryan Nassib here. But it ends up that’s just not the case, and now Nassib has to wait with the rest of this draft’s quarterback crop.

Admittedly, I think this is a bit of a reach — no QB in this draft is really first-round caliber — but Manuel is a proven commodity from his time at FSU, and if you’re going with a passer, either he or Nassib would be a fine choice. Do you disagree?

Want to read up on Manuel a bit more? Check out our Florida State draft preview from  last week.

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

#goacc

Previously: Jonathan Cooper Selected #7 Overall by Arizona Cardinals

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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: Florida State Prospects

Can FSU Defensive End Bjoern Werner End Up Being a Top-10 Pick in the Draft?

Can FSU Defensive End Bjoern Werner End Up Being a Top-10 Pick in the Draft?

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.

In 2012, Florida State enjoyed its most successful season in quite some time, riding a collection of senior leadership all the way to ACC and Orange Bowl titles, respectively. The result of that, of course, is a huge crop of players that could potentially find themselves selected in this year’s NFL Draft. The ‘Noles saw 13 (!!!) players invited to the scouting combine in Indianapolis back in February, and a grand total of 15 former FSU standouts could end up having their names called later this month. With so many players to go through, let’s dive in…

Bjoern Werner, DE, Junior (Projected: First Round)

Werner’s one of the best pure pass-rushers in this year’s draft, yet due to the depth of talent available all across the defensive line, he still may end up going in the latter half of the first round. While he’s certainly put up the numbers to warrant a top-10 selection (13 sacks last season), his late-season injury and lack of size in comparison to other DEs (a smaller 6’3″ and 266 pounds) has teams willing to wait. Without true breakout speed — only runs a 4.81 40-yard dash time — it’s tough to see him transitioned to an outside linebacker spot, which means he’ll be playing his natural position wherever he goes. I’d contend that concerns aside, the product out of Germany has less mileage on him than most prospects, which will make a huge difference in his long-term durability.

Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE, Senior (Projected: First Round)

Werner’s partner in crime on the defensive line, Carradine’s had a meteoric rise since the start of 2012, when he was just a reserve. Just 11 starts and 11 sacks later, “Tank” is universally projected to be a first-round draft pick. Like Werner, he did have a small injury problem at the end of the season. But without starting for the past three or four seasons, I’d give Carradine the same credit towards durability I also gave his counterpart. He’s got less mileage on him, hence will be more durable in the long run. Besides, with some huge paws and height, it’s tough to reason letting this elite pass-rusher slip through, especially as the NFL’s emphasis on throwing the ball increases.

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Way-Too-Early 2013 ACC Football Power Rankings

Can Georgia Tech QB Vad Lee Lead the Yellow Jackets Back to the ACC Title Game?

Can Georgia Tech QB Vad Lee Lead the Yellow Jackets Back to the ACC Title Game?

It’s been a couple months since we last checked in on the ACC’s football teams, and in that time, we’ve been able to digest recent recruits, coaching changes and the new directions of each squad. And with spring practices in full swing, chances are we’ll get to know even more over the coming weeks. Until then, here’s where the ACC‘s 14 (15) teams stand in our way-too-early assessment:

1. Clemson Tigers (Last: 1): Clemson’s offseason focus is obviously on the defensive side of the ball, as they look to build upon the positives of last year. While Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins will be the motors that guide the success of the offense, it really is that defensive unit that will guide just how far this team can go, and if they can achieve their ultimate goal (a national title).

2. Louisville Cardinals (Last: 2): Far too many players are coming back for the defending Sugar Bowl champs to accept anything but another trip to a BCS game. But yet, it seems far too many critics see them doing just that. If coach Charlie Strong can keep that chip on the Cardinals’ shoulders, we may just be looking at a darkhorse contender for the BCS title game.

3. Florida State Seminoles (Last: 3): Can they effectively replace EJ Manuel at the quarterback position? That’s really the linchpin of FSU’s year, and the key question this spring as well. If they can come out of spring with a great handle on who their starting passer is, it means the offense also progresses faster come August, too.

4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (Last: 4): Too much returning talent on offense for the ‘Canes to go anywhere but up. And while the continuing off-the-field nonsense certainly doesn’t help matters for this group, it could also work to their advantage. With new offensive coordinator James Coley now officially plugged in, I’d highly expect results to come in the form of big season from key playmakers Duke Johnson and Stephen Morris.

5. North Carolina Tar Heels (Last: 6): Technically, the Tar Heels are your defending Coastal division champ, so expectations should be pretty high right off the bat. But as year two of Larry Fedora’s offense takes shape, this team does have a pretty clear shot to challenge for the conference title. The difference-maker may end up being the defense, though, which struggled at times last season, and must replace several key starters.

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ACC 2013 Spring Football Preview: Florida State Seminoles

Former Alabama Secondary Coach Jeremy Pruitt Inherits Just Four Returning Starters for FSU's Defense

Former Alabama Secondary Coach Jeremy Pruitt Inherits Just Four Returning Starters for FSU’s Defense

As the ACC‘s spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing the big storylines for each of the league’s 14 (15, in this case) teams. Check back on weekdays for what to look out for during your school’s spring practices and spring game.

Team: Florida State Seminoles

Spring Practice Start Date: March 20

Spring Game Date: April 13

Florida State was effectively “back” in 2012, but with the spoils of success comes a lot of change heading into 2013. Seven assistants left for greener pastures during the offseason, and the team only returns 10 starters. So this spring is just as much about getting to know all the new faces around the program, as it is establishing an early depth chart for next season.

Offensively, the top priority is replacing departed senior QB EJ Manuel, who’s held down the position for three-plus seasons. While there’s certainly some expected drop-off without Manuel, the team has a big decision to make: established backup who will likely jump right in to run the offense, or promote a less established player who may need more time to take the reins. In one corner, you have the former, Clint Trickett, who will be a junior next season. In the other, the ‘Noles can choose from rising sophomore Jacob Coker and star 2012 QB recruit Jameis Winston. All have their respective merits, but without a settled option at offensive coordinator right now, it’ll be hard to truly get a read on what the assistants are looking for. One would assume head coach Jimbo Fisher will be aiming not to rock the boat, adapting his coaching hire and system to the best quarterback available on the roster. But an all-out quarterback competition looks to be in the offing, and it may not even be settled until well into August.

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