By most accounts, the 2019 Atlantic Coast Conference season was a bit of a downer. There was one dominating team in Clemson and then there was everyone else. Every conference in college football goes through a rough season and last fall it was the ACC’s turn. Despite this, 35 players were invited to the NFL combine in Indy back in February. A low number for a Power 5 league for sure, but at least the conference gave the NFL some talent to consider for their annual draft in late April.
The down year did affect the way scouts of the NFL may have viewed the conference as only six players, three in the first round and three more in the second round, were taken. With only two schools, Clemson with seven overall picks, and Miami with four, as the only schools with more than two players drafted. In all, the ACC finished with 27 selections in the seven rounds of the draft with several taken as free agents after the draft was over. Let’s take a look at the six players that were selected in the first two rounds.
Clemson linebacker, Isaiah Simmons, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, was the first player drafted. He was the eighth overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals. Simmons became the fifth player in league history to win the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker. He would end the 2019 season fourth in the league in tackles for losses and eighth in sacks. It has been five years since a Tiger linebacker was picked this high in the draft. Vic Beasley was the No.8 pick in 2015.
An offensive lineman was the next player to go when Louisville OL Mark Becton was scooped up by the New York Jets with the 11th pick in the first round. The league’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner in 2019, he is the school’s highest-drafted lineman since 2009. He should be a major addition to the Jets offensive line depth.
The final pick for the league in the first round was Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell who went at number 16 to the Atlanta Falcons. In his two years as a starter in the Tiger secondary, the team’s record was 29-1. In 2019, Terrell was in on 39 tackles, seven pass breakups, and two interceptions.
In the second round, it was all about the skill positions on offense. WR Tee Higgins of the Tigers was picked up with the 33rd selection by the Cincinnati Bengals. Higgins was part of what most thought was a deep receiving class in this year’s draft. The first-team All-ACC selection had 59 catches for 1,167 yards (team-high). Higgins also hauled in 13 touchdowns passes in 550 snaps playing in all 15 games as a starter.
The next two picks were running backs. With 52nd pick, the Los Angeles Rams took Florida State’s, Cam Akers. He rushed for 1.144 yards and had 18 total touchdowns. He would account for three TD’s on three different occasions last season. He finished his career at FSU with 2,874 rushing yards, 34 touchdowns, and 11 100-yard games.
The 62nd pick of the second round was another running back. Boston College’s A.J. Dillon was called by the Green Bay Packers. Dillon played in 12 of BC games in 2019. He ran for 1,685 yards on 318 carries, with 14 touchdowns. He also caught 13 passes for 195 yards and one score out of the backfield. As Dillon tried to show NFL scouts he can be effective as a pass-catching threat out of the backfield. He is the Eagles all-time leading rusher (4,238) and rushing touchdowns with 38 while being a three-time All-ACC first-team running back.
In rounds three through seven there were 12 defensive players taken along with nine offensive players. Every program in the league had at least one player selected in this year draft