NFL Draft 2012: Luke Kuechly, David Wilson, Andre Branch Among 31 ACC Players Selected

Luke Kuechly Headlines a Long List of ACC Football Players Drafted By NFL Teams This Weekend

The 2012 NFL Draft is officially in the books, after 253 selections from the NFL’s 32 franchises. In total, the ACC saw 31 players chosen in this year’s draft — 33, if you include the two draftees from Syracuse (for argument’s sake, we will here). That number — regardless of which you decide to use — puts the conference behind just the SEC and Big Ten 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 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 roster 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. Continue reading

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NFL Draft 2012: Luke Kuechly, Quinton Coples Among Four ACC First-Rounders

Former UNC Defensive End Quinton Coples Will Now Be Suiting Up for the New York Jets

Of the 32 players selected during Thursday’s first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, four ended up hailing from ACC schools. And while three of them were expected to go in the opening round, another appeared to be a slight reach, though nothing to be surprised about.

We’ll have a full breakdown post-Draft next week, but for now, here are the league’s four first round picks:

No. 9 Overall: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College, selected by the Carolina Panthers

We said Kuechly was top-10 the other day, and it ends up we — like many others — were spot-on in that assessment. Carolina gets themselves a fierce competitor and defender who’s likely to play an active role in the struggling defense from early on.

No. 16 Overall: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina, selected by the New York Jets

Something tells me that Coples’ big issue (effort) will become a non-factor once he arrives at Jets camp this summer. Either that, or he’ll get sucked into the Rex Ryan circus. For his sake, let’s hope he can avoid the distractions in New York, and play up to the potential he’s always shown in spurts. Continue reading

2012 NFL Draft Preview: Top 10 ACC Prospects

On the Day Before the NFL Draft, Boston College’s Luke Kuechly Looks Like He’ll Be the ACC’s First Selection

Over the last few weeks, we took a look at the ACC players that would find themselves selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, which begins this Thursday, April 26. And now, that day is nearly here, and we can finally end the charade of these athletes not getting paid to do what they do (only half-joking)…

If you’d like to take a more thorough look at how each of these prospects stack up, feel free to glance over all 14 teams’ draft preview posts, which you’ll find links to in the series’ final post for Wake Forest. As for this post, however, we’ll be listing the top 10 prospects, with a quick note on their skill set, and where they could possibly end up. Feel free to disagree with these, of course, since no one actually talks about when projecting out the NFL Draft.

Top 10 ACC Prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft

1. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College (Projected Round: 1)

As the top linebacker in the 2012 NFL Draft class, Kuechly could go to a myriad of teams, depending on need, but consensus says he’s a surefire top-10 selection. With this in mind, his most likely destinations (barring trades) are the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins or Carolina Panthers.

2. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina (Projected Round: 1)

The New York Giants have proven continuously that a consistent pass rush can lead teams single-handedly to the Super Bowl — a strategy that will benefit players like Coples this year, who know how to get after the quarterback. Nearly every team in the middle of the first round could use him, but odds are on the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals or San Diego Chargers. Continue reading

2012 NFL Draft Preview: North Carolina

North Carolina DE Quinton Coples May Be a Top-10 Pick in the 2012 NFL 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 43 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 26 and 28.

Several pieces from the vaunted North Carolina defense will be up for grabs in this year’s draft — most notably Quinton Coples and Zach Brown. While several of these former Tar Heels leave the program with an air of scandal attached, that’s unlikely to have any effect on their extremely promising pro careers.

Quinton Coples, DE, Senior

As a 6’5″, 285-pound monster coming off the end, Coples is a horrifying sight for most offensive linemen, regardless of ability. With a nice first move, and a nose for affecting the play in a variety of ways, the Heels’ leader in sacks and tackles last year promises to make an impact from the get-go. In run defense, he already possesses a pro-level skill set when it comes to containing runners from hitting the edge. As for passing, while Coples excels at getting to the quarterback, his true value comes not in getting that big sack, but forcing quarterbacks out of their comfort zone and into poor throws. Already projecting to be a star at the NFL level, he’s seen as a top-10 pick; the type of talent you can’t miss if you have a hole to fill on the defensive line. While this type of rhetoric is bounced around both successes and failures in the draft, Coples projects well into the right 4-3 system. Continue reading

ACC 2012 Spring Practice Expectations: North Carolina Tar Heels

Tailback Giovani Bernard Will Be the Motor That Runs the North Carolina Offense in 2012

As spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing what needs to happen for the teams and players of the ACC, culminating with notes on all 14 spring games.

Today’s featured team: North Carolina Tar Heels

The Tar Heels’ spring practice preview couldn’t have had worse timing, really. While first-year head coach Larry Fedora will continue to implement his system, the NCAA’s ruling yesterday to ban his team from the postseason obviously looms large. Postseason aside though, Carolina’s offense alone should put them in line to contend for a Coastal Division championship they’re ineligible to win. As much as they’ll spend the spring trying to replace star receiver Dwight Jones, this team is built for a balanced, high-powered attack, even without the assumed first-round pick. In his first season as a starter last year, quarterback Bryn Renner racked up over 3,000 yards to go along with 26 touchdowns. In his own first season of college football, halfback Giovani Bernard recorded 1,615 total yards and 14 scores. So irregardless of who else participates, UNC should be okay as both players progress. That said, it’ll take some additional consistency from the running game outside of Bernard too, especially reserve A.J. Blue. Passing-wise, Brenner will spend the spring targeting seniors Jheranie Boyd and Erik Highsmith, who are both capable targets ready to pick up the slack for Jones’ departure. Continue reading

Top 15 ACC Players at the 2012 NFL Draft Combine

Boston College LB Luke Kuechly Leads a Strong Crop of ACC Players to the NFL Draft Combine

Another crop of players leaves the college ranks this spring to take part in one of my favorite events growing up (that is, until Roger Goodell ruined it): the NFL Draft. In preparation for their selections come April, the league released its official Combine invite list, and there are plenty of ACC players in attendance. In total, the 14 teams had 51 selections, with Miami scoring the most (eight). No surprise with the questions still looming over that program.

Below, we’ll list the top 15 prospects invited to the Combine, followed by a quick team-by-team list based on total numbers.

Top 15 ACC Players at the 2012 NFL Draft Combine

1. Luke Kuechly, LB/Boston College

2. David Wilson, RB/Virginia Tech

3. Andre Branch, DE/Clemson

4. Lamar Miller, RB/Miami

5. Dwight Jones, WR/North Carolina

6. T.J. Graham, WR/NC State

7. Sean Spence, LB/Miami

8. Chris Givens, WR/Wake Forest Continue reading

2011 ACC Season Recap: North Carolina Tar Heels

Giovanni Bernard Was UNC's Top Performer in 2011 and Figures to Be Again in 2012Mi

Team: North Carolina Tar Heels

W-L: 7-6 (3-5)

Postseason: 41-24 Independence Bowl loss to Missouri

Top Offensive Performer: Giovani Bernard, RB

Top Defensive Performer: Quinton Coples, DE

Another team marred by NCAA allegations, the Tar Heels’ coaching change left their program seemingly in disarray going into 2011. Yet, with strong play by contributors young and old on offense, and a talented cast of characters on the defensive side, they still managed to qualify for a bowl game. Among their most impressive contributors, first-time starters Giovani Bernard and Bryn Renner turned in phenomenal performances, ranking among the best running backs and quarterbacks, respectively, in the ACC. Even more stunning was that despite 10 games (out of 13) against bowl competition, the Heels held their own in a little over half, and only truly found themselves out of two contests all season.

For an offense with as many weapons as UNC possessed — Bernard, Renner and All-ACC receiver Dwight Jones — one would’ve expected a lot out of this offense. And yet, they were nothing special, scoring just above 28 points per game and finishing around the middle of the pack in most major offensive categories. As good as the freshman Bernard was, he was the only effective rusher the team had. However, in the passing game, Renner would prove to be the conference’s most efficient signal-caller, and combining with Jones’s stellar efforts, were a lethal mix ready to blow up any game without warning. Predictably, with such a pass-heavy offense, they’d finish with some of the lowest time-of-possession numbers in the league, along with ACC bookends Maryland (2-10) and Clemson (10-4). Continue reading