Friday, May 3, 2013
Top ACC prospects for 2014 draft
By Andrea Adelson
Time to start writing down a few names of potential top prospects in the 2014 NFL draft.
Never too early to start.
We already know Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has risen up draft charts. Who else joins him from the ACC on Todd McShay's early list of the top 32 prospects for next year? Here is a look:
One more to monitor
Of the five players mentioned, Watkins and Jernigan are underclassmen. I broached the topic of leaving school early with Jernigan while I was in Tallahassee on my spring visit in March. He said, "I expect so much of myself. I know there’s still a lot more for me to do here so I’m not really worried about the next level. There’s so much more I want to do at Florida State that hasn’t been done here."
Jernigan certainly has the size and the ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage, so it's no surprise to see him rated so highly. None of these names are surprising, quite frankly. Both Heather and I expect Watkins to have a bounce-back season. If he does, he could follow DeAndre Hopkins out the door a year early.
Jones stands to gain as much as Boyd did. He was given a third-round grade when he petitioned the NFL draft advisory board last year but decided to stay in school. With the new attacking scheme that coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has brought with him from Alabama, the belief is that Jones will be much more active and be utilized to make plays behind the line as well.
Now, here is one more name to keep an eye on this season: North Carolina tackle James Hurst. He has the potential to really turn some heads this season and make a name for himself. We all saw how valuable offensive tackles were in the first round of this year's draft so he certainly should be one to watch as the year goes on.
Others who could rise: Florida State safety Lamarcus Joyner and North Carolina defensive end Kareem Martin.