2014 NFL All-Pro Team: ACC Edition

The NFL Playoffs are well underway and with the announcement of the Pro Bowl rosters, it’s time to take a look at the ACC’s very best on the football field. Our own Darrell Jones did a comprehensive overview of ACC alums making it big in the NFL recently, but this time we mold them into a team that would turn any juggernaut green with envy. Let’s start with a coach

There were six ACC alums coaching in the NFL this past season: Mike Pettine (Virginia), Ken Whisenhunt (Georgia Tech), Tom Coughlin (Syracuse), Doug Marrone (Syracuse), Bruce Arians (Virginia Tech) and Jay Gruden (Lousiville).

Most of these guys are varying levels of incompetent, and the best of the middling coaches Doug Marrone is voluntarily unemployed at present. Coughlin has the best pedigree with two Super Bowl rings as a head coach, but he’s a grouchy old man who will trade you to a CFL team if you fumble in the preseason.

The clear choice is Bruce Arians. Congratulations coach! Here are your players:



Russell Wilson, NC State

Wilson’s passing numbers aren’t quite as impressive on the surface as those of honorable mention’s Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers, but he has his team in the playoffs and possesses the unique ability among this trio to make plays with his feet. He racked up 3,475 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the year while adding 118 carries for 849 yards and six TDs. That’s good for a whopping 7.2 yards per carry.

Honorable Mention: Matt Ryan (BC), Philip Rivers (NC State).

Running Back

Lamar Miller, Miami

I could have taken the easy way out here with the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy, but looking at the numbers a little deeper made things less clear cut than you might think. Miller ran for 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns on just 212 carries. McCoy rushed for just 220 more yards and fewer touchdowns (five) despite 96 more carries. Miller also had 275 yards receiving to just 155 for McCoy. You can’t really go wrong here, but Miller’s season was a bit more impressive in my eyes.

Honorable Mention: LeSean McCoy (Pittsburgh), Frank Gore (Miami).


This is a position the ACC seems to be lacking in. Of course, football as a whole largely ignores the fullback these days. As such, how about we go with a single-back formation to follow with the trend?


Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech

Peyton Manning sure does love Demaryius Thomas. He finished the year with 111 catches for 1,619 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s 14.6 yards per catch and 101.2 yards per game. He’s become the number one weapon on one of the top offenses in football and a consistent big-play threat as 25 of his receptions went for 20 yards or more.

DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

Hopkins had a breakout season in his second year in the league. Hopkins posted 76 catches for 1,210 yards and six touchdowns for the Houston Texans. He managed to be a consistent target and actually moved past Andre Johnson as the most consistent pass-catching option in Houston. He did all this despite several issues at the quarterback position.

Golden Tate, Notre Dame

Tate moved from the Seahawks to the Lions in the offseason where he helped fill the void left by a banged up Calvin Johnson. Johnson still had a strong season, but Tate was more productive between the twenties with 1,331 yards on 99 catches. He only had four touchdowns but proved to be a very reliable target for Matthew Stafford.

Honorable Mention: Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech), Sammy Watkins (Clemson), Kelvin Benjamin (Florida State).

Tight End

Jimmy Graham, Miami

Fellow Miami Alumnus Greg Olsen had more yards, but Graham pulled in four more touchdowns (10) as well as a respectable 889 yards in what was generally a down year by his standards. His physical ability is still impressive and his versatility in the passing game has always been an asset unique to the position.

Honorable Mention: Greg Olsen (Miami), Heath Miller (Virginia)


Duane Brown, Virginia Tech

Still a force at the tackle spot in his 7th season in the NFL, it’s hard to believe Brown was briefly a tight end in Blacksburg. He was really the lone bright spot on a spotty Texans offensive line after not allowing any sacks on the left side.

Anthony Castonzo, Boston College

Castonzo had a big year protecting Andrew Luck in Indianapolis. He allowed just eight quarterback disruptions this season and actually caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Luck while solidifying a strong offensive unit up front for the Colts.


Orlando Franklin, Miami

Franklin moved from tackle to guard this season and started all 16 games for the Broncos. If he’s good enough for Peyton, he’s good enough for me.

Zack Martin, Notre Dame

After allegedly restraining Jerry Jones from drafting Johnny Manziel, the Cowboys used their first pick in last year’s draft to select Martin and he instantly solidified an offensive line that has been a weak point in recent years. The Dallas run game has improved and Tony Romo now fears less for his well-being every game.


Will Montgomery, Virginia Tech

The veteran moved into the starting role in Denver halfway through the season and has served solidly in his role as the anchor of Peyton Manning’s protection detail. He’s helped rejuvenate the Broncos rushing attack this season which is exactly why Denver signed him.


Based on the numbers up the middle, we’ll have to run a 3-4 defensive scheme which I fundamentally dislike, but it should work with this roster.

Defensive End

Mario Williams, NC State

The veteran continues to be a force for the strong Buffalo Bills defense. He only had 36 tackles and six assists, but finished with 14.5 sacks, good for a tie for fourth in the NFL. Williams added two forced fumbles.

Calais Campbell, Miami

Campbell had a strong year for the Cardinals totaling 48 tackles, 10 assists and seven sacks. He also had a forced fumble and an interception.

Honorable Mention: Robert Quinn (North Carolina), Chandler Jones (Syracuse)

Defensive Tackle

Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh

Just a rookie, Donald burst on the scene with 47 total tackles, nine sacks and a forced fumble. Things aren’t especially positive in St. Louis, but the future of the defensive line looks very promising.


Elvis Dumervil, Louisville

Dumervil had a strong season for the Ravens finishing third in the NFL with 17 sacks. He had 37 combined tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He’s a crucial part of what could very well prove to be a Super Bowl Champion defense.

Luke Kuechley, Boston College

Easily one of the most active defenders in the NFL, Kuechley helped lead the Panthers to the playoffs with his unstoppable motor. He tallied 99 solo tackles and 54 assists to go along with 11 passes defended, three sacks, one interception and a forced fumble and recovery.

Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech

After signing a 1-year $9.754 million transition tender to stick with the Steelers, Worilds put in a respectable year. He finished with 59 combined tackles and 7.5 sacks plus two passes defended, one interception, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

Julius Peppers, North Carolina

There was still plenty left in the tank for Peppers in his 13th professional season. The former dual-sport athlete tallied 44 combined tackles and seven sacks. He also defended 11 passes, forced four fumbles recovering three, picked off two passes and scored two touchdowns. Great production for a 34-year-old on his third team and second position.


William Gay, Louisville

69 total tackles is impressive enough, and three interceptions is solid, but what sets Gay apart are his three touchdowns for the Steelers. He’s a valuable part of any defense with that kind of return ability.

Darrelle Revis, Pittsburgh

Antonio Cromartie, Brandon Flowers and Darrelle Revis all have almost identical numbers, so it felt somewhat disingenuous to pick any of the three. I was tempted to choose Xavier Rhodes as he tied for fourth in the NFL in passes defended with 18, but people would look at me funny and send nasty e-mails. Flowers hits the hardest and Cromartie is the fastest, but Revis still has tremendous fluidity and technique so he gets the nod here.

Honorable Mention: Antonio Cromartie (Florida State), Brandon Flowers (Virginia Tech), Xavier Rhodes (Florida State).

Strong Safety

Kam Chancellor, Virginia Tech

The hardest hitter on the “Legion of Boom” strikes fear in the heart of any receiver bold enough to venture over the middle against Seattle. Chancellor had 78 combined tackles with an interception and a forced fumble on the season, but his impact on the game extends far beyond the stat sheet. He’s terrifying.

Honorable Mention: Antrel Rolle (Miami), Morgan Burnett (Georgia Tech).

Free Safety

Harrison Smith, Notre Dame

This is likely the strongest member of the much maligned Minnesota secondary. Smith is a physical player who proved more than capable in coverage compiling five interceptions.

Special Teams


Steven Hauschka, NC State

Kickers come in all shapes and sizes…actually that’s not true. They come shaped like Sebastian Janikowski and then everyone else. Hauschka gets the nod because he kicked a season long of 58 yards and nailed 31 of 37 field goal attempts.


Andy Lee, Pittsburgh

After averaging 46.8 yards on 72 kicks and downing 28 inside the 20, he wins the ACC punting job.

Return Specialist

Devin Hester, Miami

Yet again, Devin Hester led the NFL in kick returning with his blazing speed. He returned 45 kickoffs for 1,128 yards as well as 18 punts for 240 yards. Hester holds 10 NFL records and shows no real signs of slowing down at the age of 32.

Rookie of the Year

Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh

This has proven to be a strong rookie class for ACC draftees. Donald didn’t really miss a beat but neither did Zack Martin, Kyle Fuller or even Sammy Watkins despite battling injuries and a massive blizzard in November. You can’t really go wrong here.

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