The preseason is fast approaching, and you know what that means: It’s prediction time!
The folks at NFL.com are taking a swing at forecasting the statistical leaders in six different categories (passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards, tackles, sacks and interceptions) for leagues across the country. On Monday, it was the ACC’s turn.
But the Boston College tie-in might qualify as a mild surprise:
Tackles: Boston College LB Steven Daniels
Buzz: BC had two linebackers with at least 100 tackles last season (Steele Divitto and Kevin Pierre-Louis), when Daniels had 88. But with Divitto and Pierre-Louis gone, look for Daniels to fill the void. Daniels (6-0, 257), a junior, is a physical player with big-play capabilities. He is stout against the run, but also has some pass-rush skills.
ESPN.com’s David M. Hale weighed in on the NFL.com predictions on Tuesday, and here’s his take on the “Tackles” category:
NFL.com choice: Steven Daniels (Boston College)
Not-so-obvious choice: Kelby Brown (Duke)
A lot gets made of BC’s run of great tacklers. Every year, the Eagles produce another 100-tackle defender. But do you know which team had the top three tacklers in the ACC last season? That’d be Duke (David Helton, Jeremy Cash and Brown), and all three are back this year. In fact, in the last six seasons, Duke has produced eight players with 100-tackle seasons.
Chances are, BC’s linebackers will continue to pile up tackles in Year 2 under defensive coordinator Don Brown. The attacking style Brown prefers means defensive linemen are asked to penetrate and disrupt, which in turn creates opportunities for the linebackers (and defensive backs) to bring down ball carriers.
Of BC’s top 10 tacklers in 2013, only one was a defensive lineman -- Kasim Edebali, who had 68 total tackles and tied for fourth on the team. (Edebali had more than twice as many tackles as the next two BC D-linemen combined, as Kaleb Ramsey had 28 and Brian Mihalik had 26.)
Daniels played in all 13 games and finished with 88 tackles in 2013, after playing six games and totaling 25 tackles in his freshman season in 2012. And as NFL.com noted, with Steele Divitto and Kevin Pierre-Louis moving on, the Cincinnati, Ohio, native is a natural fit as someone to look to when it comes to filling those players’ cleats.
Your turn: Who do you think will lead the Eagles in tackles in 2014? Make your pick in the comments section or tweet it @jack_mccluskey with the hashtag #BCPredictions.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.