ACC NFL Draft First Round Preview

Most projections predict linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (49) will be a high selection in the opening round Thursday night. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)

32 NFL careers will begin Thursday night in Jerry Jones’ AT&T football palace in Dallas. This year’s first round has a great deal of intrigue as a follower of such things might expect.

Though a lot can still change the outcomes of the entire night and following days, a general consensus tends to form in the final week leading up to the big night.

While any trades could alter the landscape, most ACC players look to have fallen into line in a general range. We provide our best guesses about the six players from the conference likely to hear their names called by the commissioner Thursday night.


Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State (Pick 4-10)

Chubb is a tremendous athlete who has proven to be one of the most effective defensive lineman in the ACC.

He doesn’t figure to fall out of the top ten picks, and could easily find himself selected in the top five. Many projections have Chubb going to Cleveland with the fourth selection, paired with a new franchise quarterback.

The possibility remains that the Browns could trade one of their picks in the top five. The Giants could also move out of the second overall slot if someone can reach a deal with them. Lots of shuffling remains to be seen and will affect the ultimate order. Regardless, it’s going to be a big night for the State football family.

Chubb is an extremely athletic edge rusher who frequently beat multiple blockers on the same play in college. He would be a major piece for any of the teams at the top of the draft. He could fall a bit if the quarterback carousel spins out of control, but he’s an elite talent.


Derwin James, S, Florida State (Pick 7-10)

James had some trouble staying healthy during his time in college which limited his impact a bit. Still as a junior he was named first-team All-ACC with 84 total tackles, 5.5 for loss, two interceptions, 11 pass break-ups, plus a blocked kick. His ability all but assures that he will become an instant starter in the NFL.

He has good size at 6’2″, 215-pounds and checks all the boxes on the key combine numbers. He ran a 4.47 40-yard dash, put up 21 reps on the bench press, and posted a 41-inch vertical leap.

Those numbers make him a scary defensive option at the top of a defensive backfield. He’s shown he can make plays all over the field, but he’s particularly effective near the line. He can handle playing with the bigger bodies due to his size and strength. He can cover tight ends or fight through on blitzes. He also has some nice return ability on interceptions, which isn’t terribly important, but it’s a significant bonus.


Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech (Pick 8-12)

Arguably the best linebacker in the draft, Edmunds could be a top yet another top ten pick. A number of teams could use a player of his skillset and his potential is through the roof.

Edmunds enters the draft as a 19-year-old with incredible physical tools. He stands 6’5″, 253 and runs a 4.54 40-yard dash. He was named first-team All-ACC this season as a junior when he finished with 108 total tackles and 5.5 sacks.

His ability to make plays all over the field are well demonstrated and Tremaine is undoubtedly a potential NFL all-pro if he lands in the right spot and continues to develop. He could go off the board as high as to the Bears at No. 8 or the Raiders at No. 10. If Edmunds lasts past that, he won’t last much longer. The Dolphins (11) and Bills (12) both need a linebacker if they remain at those picks, though a lot of that depends on how the quarterback dispersal shakes out.


Harold Landry, OLB/DE, Boston College (Pick 12-25)

This is where we start to see some more variance. The top three players in the ACC draft class are generally all considered top ten locks. Once you get outside of that group, things become much harder to predict.

Landry is certainly considered a first round talent by most. I’ve seen him mocked anywhere from in the top 15 to towards the end of the first round. Like the other defensive players discussed in this article, Landry demonstrates a potent blend of size and speed. He’s 6’3″, 252-pounds and ran a 4.64 in the 40-yard dash. Landry also has a 36-inch vertical leap which is on par with most defensive backs.

It didn’t seem to matter how much focus was placed on Landry, he always seemed to make plays. BC hasn’t been overly successful during his time in school, but did qualify for a bowl game and finish 7-6 in three of his four seasons. Despite the ups and downs, you never saw Landry quit on games.


Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville (Pick 15-25)

Jaire is an elite talent who will make any defense he joins better immediately. The junior from Charlotte, N.C. has blazing speed as demonstrated by his 4.38 40-time and a quick look at any highlight footage.

Alexander plays more physical than you might expect just looking at his frame. He’s not small by any means, but at 5’10”, 196-pounds you might understand is he didn’t feel comfortable getting in guys faces. He doesn’t shy away from contact however and he showed great ball skills as well.

Jaire missed portions of last season with leg and hand injuries and he was sorely missed when out of the lineup. The defense simply wasn’t effective without his presence on the field. He did manage to start six of his seven games played in 2017.

He could land in the later portion of round one, which could lead to a really cool story. Some mock drafts have him ending up with the Carolina Panthers which would be a full circle destination for the former three-star recruit from Rocky River High School.


Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (Pick 12-32)

Jackson has to be one of the most polarizing players in the entire draft class. It’s impossible to even pin down where he might be chosen given the divergence of opinions regarding his NFL future.

If the Buffalo Bills stay put with the 12th and 24th picks, Jackson could be the top quarterback left and the obvious choice for the team at No. 12. Many think they will move up to take one of the other guys at the position, so Jackson could end up falling.

Like all of the passers in this draft class, Jackson has some considerable work to do in order to be a franchise quarterback. He needs to be more consistent and accurate with his throws. He also has to be patient, which caused him to force things occasionally in college. What sets him apart is his unbelievable athleticism which may give him the highest overall ceiling of any of the QBs.

Wherever he ends up, some team is getting an impressive player and a generational talent in the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner.


Follow me on Twitter @BestCates and follow @InsideTheACC for more Atlantic Coast Conference coverage.

Here’s the first round selection order as it currently stands:

Round 1

1. Cleveland Browns

2. New York Giants

3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis Colts)

4. Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans)

5. Denver Broncos

6. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets)

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

8. Chicago Bears

9. San Francisco 49ers

10. Oakland Raiders

11. Miami Dolphins

12. Buffalo Bills (from Cincinnati Bengals)

13. Washington Redskins

14. Green Bay Packers

15. Arizona Cardinals

16. Baltimore Ravens

17. Los Angeles Chargers

18. Seattle Seahawks

19. Dallas Cowboys

20. Detroit Lions

21. Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo Bills)

22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs)

23. Los Angeles Rams

24. Carolina Panthers

25. Tennessee Titans

26. Atlanta Falcons

27. New Orleans Saints

28. Pittsburgh Steelers

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

30. Minnesota Vikints

31. New England Patriots

32. Philadelphia Eagles


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