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: Syracuse’s Justin Pugh Picked 19th Overall by New York Giants

Standout Syracuse Lineman Justin Pugh is Now a New York Giant

Standout Syracuse Lineman Justin Pugh is Now a Member of the New York Giants

Yet another ACC player gets chosen, and to many, it’s yet another surprise. The New York Giants appeared ready to draft one of several elite defenders left on the board, but instead, went with former Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh. Pugh was arguably the best offensive lineman available, but many mock drafts had him going much closer to the start of the second round.

Can’t call this pick the best option at this spot, but at the same time, the Giants filled a need on offensive line — one that’s been slowly hurting them over the last few years. Pugh’s a strong guy, smart and a tireless worker. He’ll definitely help New York out immediately. He’s also the second straight SU player to go in the top 20, joining now-New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones from last season.

Want to read up on Pugh a bit more? Check out our Syracuse draft preview from earlier this week.

Congrats to Justin 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

EJ Manuel Selected #16 Overall by Buffalo Bills

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NFL Draft 2013 Preview: Syracuse Prospects

With Former SU Coach Doug Marrone in Buffalo, Does That Make Nassib a First-Rounder?

With Former SU Coach Doug Marrone in Buffalo, Does That Make Nassib a First-Rounder?

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.

For as much credit as former Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone is rightfully due, the program’s resurgence doesn’t happen without the boatload of talented players, either. And that’s never been more readily apparent than at this year’s draft, as the Orange could have as many as six players selected, many in the first two days. Between stellar showings at the combine and pro day, and a league-wide feeling that now-Bills coach Marrone will draft as many former SU guys as possible, the value of every former Orange player has been steadily climbing.

Ryan Nassib, QB, Senior (Projected: Second Round)

In a realistic assessment of Nassib’s talent, he’s a smart passer with leadership traits, a strong arm and enough potential to work his way into a starting role within the next couple seasons. But operating under the assumption that Marrone is both drafting a quarterback and drafting all Syracuse players, suddenly Nassib could very well be a top-10 pick. Over the course of his career, Nassib was exactly the type of program-builder you need at the collegiate level; a three-year starter who improved himself each season. With a strong build and an even stronger arm, scouts see him as the type of passer who can stay calm in the pocket, while also threading the needle on medium routes. Where teams are concerned — and SU fans can agree here — are his ability to accurately complete long balls and his ability to put some touch on the ball. He never truly mastered either at Syracuse, and if there’s anything in particular that pushes him further than the first 40 or so selections, it’ll be that. Though again, with Marrone and former SU offensive coordinator (now Bills OC) Nathaniel Hackett calling the shots, it seems a foregone conclusion he’ll be a Bill in either the first or second round.

Justin Pugh, OT, Senior (Projected: Second Round)

The biggest issues with Pugh going into the combine were how his shoulder injury from last season was holding up, and if he really had the size to hack it at the tackle spot in the NFL. So while he’s put some durability fears to rest by showing off the shoulder’s doing fine, there’s now a prevailing thought that he’d be better off at the offensive guard position. At 6’5″ and 307 pounds, he’s got the right height and weight, but fails to have the arm length and brute force needed to hold down the offensive line’s most important position. Still, regardless of what position he ends up at, his speed (5.12 40-yard dash) and work ethic are appealing to teams, and he’s viewed as having a lot of upside (more than most O-linemen in the draft, actually).

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ACC 2013 Spring Football Preview: Syracuse Orange

Can Charley Loeb Succeed Ryan Nassib As the Orange QB This Spring, Or is it Someone Else's Job to Lose?

Can Charley Loeb Succeed Ryan Nassib As the Orange QB This Spring, Or is it Someone Else’s Job to Lose?

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: Syracuse Orange

Spring Practice Start Date: March 19

Spring Game Date: April 20

Syracuse wrapped up a wild 2012 season by winning six of seven games… and then watching their head coach, Doug Marrone, and seven other staff members walk out the door for the Buffalo Bills. Since then, panic has subsidized for the Orange faithful, but there are still plenty of questions for this group. New head coach Scott Shafer’s committed to keeping the transition as simple as possible (he was the team’s defensive coordinator last year after all), but the success of that strategy relies largely on the personnel. SU must replace several key contributors on both sides of the ball, and it’s unclear whether they’ll be able to alleviate those issues by the end of spring ball.

First and foremost, the team is faced with as tough a challenge as any in the nation, replacing departed senior quarterback (and program poster boy) Ryan Nassib. After a record-setting career that brought the program back from the depths, Nassib’s off to the NFL (and likely the Bills), and in his place is a massive hole to fill. As of right now, there are four candidates for the job — Charley Loeb, John Kinder, Terrell Hunt and Ashton Broyld — and without much experience (Nassib was a three-year starter), it’s virtually anyone’s game. Plus, whoever this new passer may be will also have to figure out who he’s throwing to. Top targets Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales are both gone as well, leaving the team to wonder if Jarrod West, Jeremiah Kobena and Arkansas transfer Quinta Funderburk can step up as the main receiving options. There’s also the issue of the offensive line, which must try to replace star lineman Justin Pugh as well. In the early goings this spring, the squad’s biggest saving grace may be the backfield, which returns all three top rushers from last year and looks to build upon a strong finish.

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2012 ACC Football Season Recap: Syracuse Orange

Syracuse Capped Off an Eight-Win 2012 With a Dominating Effort Over West Virginia

Syracuse Capped Off an Eight-Win 2012 With a Dominating Effort Over West Virginia

Team: Syracuse Orange

W-L: 8-5

Postseason: 38-14 New Era Pinstripe Bowl win over West Virginia

Top Offensive Performer: Ryan Nassib, QB

Top Defensive Performer: Brandon Sharpe, DE

Syracuse was looking to leave the conference they founded (the Big East) on a high-note, but things didn’t appear to be going as planned when they started off the year a disappointing 2-4. But then something clicked. The Orange, at one time haunted by the ghosts of a five-game losing streak to close 2011, wrapped up 2012 by winning six of seven, including their second Pinstripe Bowl victory in two years. It was a fitting end to send their senior quarterback (and soon after, head coach, too) out in style.

At the focal point of early August’s practices was a complete revamp of the SU offense. Over the past few seasons, the team appeared to get bogged down by their inability to move the ball (24 points per game in 2011; 22 points per game in 2010), and then-offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was tasked with fixing the issue. After quickly installing a no-huddle system with spread elements, it appeared the Orange were in business early in September. While the first two games both resulted in losses, the offense appeared to be firing on all cylinders, mostly by the strength of senior QB Ryan Nassib’s arm. In those two early contests alone, Nassib would complete 75 of 132 passes for 804 yards and six scores. But then the wheels began to come off, and thus entered then-coach Doug Marrone’s “tank” package; implementing goal-line elements on various downs and distances, specifically designed for running back Adonis Ameen-Moore. Once the set took hold, it immediately balanced the Syracuse attack, and a group that was floundering by mid-September finished the year scoring 30 points per game, with the  17th-ranked offense in the country. Nassib and wideout Alec Lemon were still the stars of the show, mind you, but what they really needed to be successful was a well-planned rushing attack — something they saw from October onward, as the SU backfield would end the season ranked 40th in the FBS, racking up 187 yards per game.

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2012 All-ACC Football Team: Offense

Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins Was One of Several Star Performers in the ACC This Season

Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins Was One of Several Star Performers in the ACC This Season

As most other publications have also done, we’ve put together an All-ACC team here at Atlantic Coast Convos, honoring the best players from the 2012 football season. We’ve also included players from Syracuse and Pittsburgh, as that has always been our policy, and once bowl season is over, all ACC football news will have to involve them anyway. In this post, you’ll find both the first- and second-team offense, with choices for All-ACC defense now live as well.

See any selections you agree with? Disagree with? Feel free to voice your concerns in the comments below.

2012 Atlantic Coast Convos All-ACC Team: Offense

First Team

QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson

RB Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

RB Ray Graham, Pittsburgh

WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

WR Alec Lemon, Syracuse

TE Brandon Ford, Clemson

G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

G Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech

C Dalton Freeman, Clemson

OT James Hurst, North Carolina

OT Justin Pugh, Syracuse

Second Team

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