The 2020 NFL Draft is over 250 days away, but it’s never too early to begin preparing. This summer to prepare you for both the NFL Draft and college football season, the Armchair Scout column will be putting out 2020 NFL Draft preseason all-conference teams. These teams are purely from an NFL Draft aspect and will only include draft-eligible players. On top of that, they’ll be running alongside Armchair’s NFL Draft podcast, Seven Rounds in Heaven, and their “Summer Scouting Series” episodes. Those episodes are going conference by conference and looking at the top 2020 NFL Draft prospects. Find the Big Ten All-NFL Draft team here, the Big 12 All-NFL Draft team here, the Pac-12 All-NFL Draft team here, and the Group of 5 All-NFL Draft team here.
Clemson has appeared in the National Championship game three of the past four seasons and brought home the ACC two titles. They’re the only school who seems to be able to overthrow Alabama. Despite losing talent to the 2019 NFL Draft they still have future 2021 first overall pick, Trevor Lawrence and some big-time playmakers to watch in the 2020 NFL Draft. Also, Notre Dame is an independent, but they’re being lumped in with the ACC because they’re a member of it in basketball. The NFL Draft talent in the ACC isn’t all just Clemson. Miami has playmakers all over the offense and defense, Virginia has its most NFL Draft talent in years, and the ACC is loaded at running back, linebacker, and pass rusher. These are the 2020 NFL Draft prospects to pay attention to this college football season in the ACC and at Notre Dame!
QB- Bryce Perkins, Virginia, RS Sr (6-3, 210)
- One of the most impressive QB prospects in years resides in the ACC, but Trevor Lawrence isn’t draft-eligible until 2021. The most interesting draft-eligible QB in the conference is Bryce Perkins. In Perkins first-year at Virginia he led them to an 8-5 record, their best since 2011, and their first bowl win since 2005. Brother of New York Giants RB Paul Perkins, Bryce isn’t going to get the juices flowing with his arm or his size, but he’s got Day 3 ability. Perkins is a smart decision-maker with clean footwork and the athleticism to make plays with his legs. He has a whippy arm that’s good enough for the NFL and solid short accuracy. In a system that needs athleticism, Perkins will be a good fit. Think current Robert Griffin III.
Second Team: Ian Book, Notre Dame
Third Team: Anthony Brown, Boston College
RB- Travis Etienne, Clemson, Jr (5-10, 215)
- Everybody knows Travis Etienne’s name, he’s the best offensive prospect in the conference for the 2020 NFL Draft. Etienne is the type of running back NFL teams are going to have a hard time not taking in the first-round. He’s got elite burst and constantly erases angles that defenders have on him. Etienne is a decisive decision-maker and has the vision and quickness to hit a hole hard as it opens, making chunk runs the norm. The best part about Etienne’s game is his combination of open field elusiveness and contact balance. Defenders just slide off him, it’s reminiscent of Alvin Kamara. As a junior Etienne will have to improve on passing downs. His pass protection is subpar and he’s rarely asked to catch passes. Effectiveness on passing downs will be the key to being a top pick for Etienne.
Second Team: Cam Akers, Florida State
Third Team: Antonio Williams, North Carolina
RB- AJ Dillon, Boston College, Jr (6-0, 250)
- The hardest decision of the ACC team was picking between AJ Dillon and Cam Akers. Dillon is an old-school hammer with a high floor while Akers has the tools to be one of the best all-around RBs in the country. So it’s floor vs ceiling, but Florida State’s inability to get Akers involved gave Dillon the edge. Dillon is massive and physical. It’s rare for him to go down on first contact and he often pulls two or three defenders down the field. If the NFL were what it was 30 years ago Dillon would be a top pick, but questions will arise about his overall athleticism and what he adds as a pass-catcher. At the end of the day, in a power scheme, he can be productive with his elite contact balance, instincts, and lower body drive.
Boston College RB AJ Dillon is an old school pounder. Bringing him down is like tackling a dump truck. Rarely goes down on first contact. pic.twitter.com/92WSOdCrmj
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) August 18, 2019
Second Team: DeeJay Dallas, Miami
Third Team: Deon Jackson, Duke
AP- Michael Carter, North Carolina, Jr (5-9, 195)
- This one might be a shocker. How is North Carolina’s part-time starting RB a top ACC prospect? Well, when he’s featured he’s an explosive playmaker with tons of upside. If Mack Brown wants the Tar Heels doing damage this year, Carter needs to be the centerpiece. He’s not big, but he runs with strong contact balance and physicality. Carter consistently makes the first man miss and he’s slippery to bring down. The overall athleticism is clear with him and he shows it through his burst. An added bonus is his competency catching the ball out of the backfield. Carter has the tools to be an NFL satellite back.
Second Team: Joe Reed, Virginia
Third Team: Tamorrion Terry, Florida State
WR- Jeff Thomas, Miami, Jr (5-10, 170)
- People who watched LSU kill Miami last season will remember the name, Jeff Thomas. Thomas burst onto the scene with 132 receiving yards and some major highlight-reel catches. Later in the season Thomas was kicked off the team and looked like he was transferring to Illinois before Manny Diaz was named the Hurricanes new head coach and he returned to the program. Thomas will have off-field questions, but on the field, he’s the most impressive draft-eligible WR in the ACC. Despite his size, Thomas is terrific in contested catch situations thanks to his physicality and body control. Athleticism wise he’s a dynamic athlete that stretch the field from the outside or the slot. In 2019 if he improves his route running and does more damage after the catch, being a top 50 pick seems realistic.
Second Team: KJ Osborn, Miami
Third Team: Sage Surratt, Wake Forest
WR- Tee Higgins, Clemson, Jr (6-3, 205)
- In a rare WR class, Tee Higgins is a big name who isn’t quite in that first tier of pass-catching prospects. Higgins is a top 50 player, but he’s not a clear first-round player… yet. What stands out with him is his ability to separate downfield, his catch radius, and his body control. He’s a big playmaker that flashes a ton, but he needs to improve with the little things to be a consistent and complete receiver. Higgins needs to be a better route runner this season and make more of an impact underneath on key third downs. To show he’s not just a downfield jump ball receiver Higgins has to add strength and do more damage after the catch. Right now Higgins looks like he can be a WR2 in the NFL, but the tools are there to be more.
Second Team: Amari Rodgers, Clemson (torn ACL)
Third Team: Scotty Washington, Wake Forest
TE- Tre’ McKitty, Florida State, Jr (6-4, 245)
- This draft season won’t have the same tight end talk as last season. Right now there are five or six interesting guys in the conversation, but after that, it’s a huge drop-off. The ACC lacks a clear NFL talent at TE right now. Florida State’s Tre’ McKitty is a raw prospect who could be interesting with some development. He’s well built and athletic, but the Seminoles didn’t get him involved much. There’s effort in his blocking, but he’ll need to get stronger at the point of attack. A major leap as a junior will be needed to get on the NFL’s radar. Brevin Jordan is the guy to watch at TE in the ACC, sadly he’s a true sophomore.
Second Team: Carl Tucker, North Carolina
Third Team: Dalton Keene, Virginia Tech
OT- Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame, RS Jr (6-5, 305)
- The first Notre Dame player to make the first team in the ACC also happens to be their best prospect. Liam Eichenberg has a chance to be one of the top offensive tackles selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. He’s a lot like former Notre Dame OT and 49ers first-round pick Mike McGlinchey. Eichenberg won’t blow anybody away with his athleticism. He wins with technique, physicality, and effort. In the run game, Eichenberg has terrific leg drive and power at the point of attack. He’s got strong hand placement and a powerful punch. In pass pro, he can play a little too high, but despite some athletic shortcomings, he’s light and crips on his feet. His balance is key to handling athleticism on the edge. Eichenberg could be a first-round pick if he improves his leverage and athleticism.
Second Team: Robert Hainsey, Notre Dame
Third Team: Nathan Gilliam, Wake Forest
OT- Charlie Heck, North Carolina, RS Sr (6-7, 310)
- Another bloodline. Charlie Heck is the brother of former Tar Heels All-ACC OT Jon Heck. Heck is a long and physical tackle who does his best work in the run game. He has heavy hands and plays with good leverage despite his height. When asked to zone block he can struggle due to a lack of short-area quickness. The thing that could keep him from being drafted is his lack of ability in pass protection. His footwork is sloppy and slow and that likely will make him a guard in the NFL. Heck really struggles with small speed rushers who can get up under him and win on the outside. Right now he’s got the tools to potentially go late Day 3.
Second Team: Mekhi Becton, Louisville
Third Team: Jake Benzinger, Wake Forest
OG- Tremayne Anchrum, Clemson (OT), Sr (6-2, 310)
- Clemson hasn’t had an offensive lineman drafted in awhile despite their dominance as a college football power. 2019 is going to be different, they have their most talented O-line in years. Last season Tremayne Anchrum was Clemson’s starting right tackle, but he’s going to be a guard in the NFL due to lack of length. Anchrum is a run mauler who finishes through the whistle. He plays with impressive power and leverage in the run but can struggle to make reach blocks. In pass protection, his feet aren’t great at tackle but will be just fine inside. He needs to improve his hand placement and power behind his punch this season.
Second Team: Tommy Kraemer, Notre Dame
Third Team: Cole Minshew, Florida State
OG- John Simpson, Clemson, Sr (6-4, 330)
- A lot of the Clemson offensive line is the same. Powerful run blockers that don’t have great athleticism and struggle in pass protection. John Simpson is the biggest of the group and might be the best run blocker of the bunch. Simpson has a strong lower body and plays with impressive leverage. He’s a phone booth guard, but he’s held back by subpar short-area quickness. Simpson has a high floor, but a low ceiling because he’s not a good athlete. In pass protection, Simpson can handle power thanks to his strong hands and anchor, but more athletic rushers can attack his feet and balance. Simpson is a late Day 3 NFL backup type.
Second Team: Sean Pollard, Clemson
Third Team: John Phillips, Boston College
C- Gage Cervenka, Clemson, RS Sr (6-2, 325)
- After spending last season as Clemson’s top backup offensive lineman, Gage Cervenka is likely to start at either guard or center this season. Even though he was a backup last year, Cervenka played a ton of snaps. Cervenka is a thick interior offensive lineman with the versatility to play all three spots. He uses his size and power well in the run game, but the lack of athleticism is clear. Cervenka could improve if he drops some weight to add some quickness so he can more consistently get up to the second level. His footwork is slow and sloppy in pass protection and he needs to improve his balance. Cervenka, like Simpson, could be a late Day 3 pick.
Second Team: Kenny Cooper, Georgia Tech
Third Team: TJ McCoy, Louisville
EDGE- Julian Okwara, Notre Dame, Sr (6-4, 240)
- One of the top senior pass rushers in the country plays for Notre Dame. Julian Okwara has a chance to be a top 50 selection thanks to his explosiveness, bend, and motor. Okwara is raw, but the athletic traits and his non-stop mentality on the field are ready to be molded in the NFL. Okwara’s go-to is to win with his first step and ability to bend, he tries to out athleticism offensive tackles and it works a lot. As a senior, he needs to add pass rush moves to become a more consistent player. If he can add weight and strength, a speed to power move could be lethal. Also when his initial outside attack doesn’t work having an inside counter would go a long way. In the run game, his lack of size often hurts his ability to set the edge, adding strength is a must.
Notre Dame EDGE Julian Okwara with the swipe and dip for a QB hit. He’s explosive with bend and solid hand use. Excited to see him take another step this year. pic.twitter.com/bEkbBmNXGv
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) August 18, 2019
Second Team: Trevon Hill, Miami
Third Team: Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh (torn ACL)
IDL- Marvin Wilson, Florida State, Jr (6-4, 314)
- The Florida State football program is very up in the air right now, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have impressive talent. Marvin Wilson was a big recruit out of high school and as a sophomore, he started making splash plays. His length and athleticism are a great fit at 3-Tech as a pass rusher. Wilson can win with his initial explosiveness and leverage but needs to add more power to his pass rush. Adding a wider variety of pass rush moves will make him one of the best interior pass rushers in the country. In the run game, Wilson can win by shooting gaps with his quickness. The issue is when he doesn’t win with athleticism he can be washed out of the run game. As a junior Wilson needs to get stronger and refine his technique.
Florida State IDL Marvin Wilson (#21) has a ton of athletic upside. Splits the double here with an arm over for the sack. He’s raw, but has impressive physical tools. pic.twitter.com/g647SEvWIz
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) June 11, 2019
Second Team: Pat Bethel, Miami
Third Team: Trevon McSwain, Duke
IDL- Larrell Murchison, North Carolina State, RS Sr (6-2, 291)
- North Carolina State just keeps on churning out defensive linemen. The next one up to watch is Larrell Murchison. In his first year as a starter, Murchison took some games over and disappeared for others. His flashy athleticism and ability to penetrate and wreak havoc was clear, but he needs to do it every week as a senior. Murchison is undersized on the interior but makes up for it with his twitchiness, ferocity, and effort. Even when he’s struggling he stands out because he’s so non-stop. The traits are there for him to develop into a 3-Tech in a 4-3 or a 5-Tech in a 3-4 one gap system. Seeing him add strength to better hold up at the point of attack will be huge for his senior season.
Second Team: Tanner Karafa, Boston College
Third Team: GG Robinson, Louisville
EDGE- Alton Robinson, Syracuse, Sr (6-3, 257)
- Last season Josh Allen was an interesting prospect with tools but needed more development. As a senior, he made a massive leap and went in the top 10 of the 2019 NFL Draft. Alton Robinson could be that guy this season. Robinson made a ton of flashy plays as a junior and is considered a top 10 pass rusher in the class by many. His violent hands and effort led to him winning a lot as a pass rusher. This season playing with more power and leverage to expand his pass rush capability could make a big difference in his consistency. Robinson isn’t the most explosive athlete and he’s a little stiff so having a full repertoire of pass rush capability is important. There aren’t many questions with him vs. the run, he’s strong at the point of attack and his motor is always running.
Syracuse EDGE Alton Robinson is one of the more intriguing Sr pass rushers in the country. Plays with active hands, has some flexibility to turn the edge, and a nice motor. pic.twitter.com/Taa0QroWgT
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) May 20, 2019
Second Team: Jonathan Garvin, Miami
Third Team: Kendall Coleman, Syracuse
LB- Isaiah Simmons, Clemson, RS Jr (6-3, 225)
- When Clemson moved Isaiah Simmons from safety to linebacker it was out of necessity. Now, Simmons is one of the best linebackers in the country and a likely first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. In today’s NFL having a linebacker with the athleticism and coverage ability of a safety is a game-changer. Simmons will be an NFL game changer. He’s explosive, aggressive, and the more snaps he plays at LB, the better he gets at his new position. This season for Simmons to be an even more impactful player he’ll need to improve his instincts, not surprising since he’s only played LB for one season. Simmons size, athleticism, and physicality make him a versatility monster with the ability to play overhang, WILL, or SAM.
Hard to find a better coverage LB than Isaiah Simmons. Clemson moved him from safety and he’s now one of the top LB prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/k9Rjps4l9O
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) May 14, 2019
Second Team: Michael Pinckney, Miami
Third Team: Dontavious Jackson, Florida State
LB- Jordan Mack, Virginia, Sr (6-2, 230)
- The ACC is full of big names, but Jordan Mack isn’t one of them… yet. Mack is the best LB prospect in the country that nobody is talking about, but they will be soon. Virginia is loaded on defense this season and Mack is the man at MIKE who makes it all go. He’s a between the tackles thumper with the athleticism to shoot gaps and make plays in the backfield. His motor is non-stop and helps him make sideline-to-sideline plays vs. the run. Instincts are major for a MIKE and his keep on improving. As a senior, if Mack improves in coverage he could be a Day 2 pick.
Jordan Mack flashes his instincts here. Sees the run coming and shoots the backside gap to get the TFL. Mack is one of the most underrated LBs in the 2020 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/QFmZKZca9Y
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) August 18, 2019
Second Team: Shaq Quarterman, Miami
Third Team: Isaiah Moore, North Carolina State
LB- Charles Snowden, Virginia, Jr (6-6, 225)
- There probably isn’t a linebacker in the country who sticks out more on the football field than Charles Snowden. Snowden is often the tallest player on the field and he’s wiry thin for a linebacker. Virginia uses him in an LB/EDGE hybrid type role to get the most out of him. His length gives him an advantage as a pass rusher and his length allows him to get up and disrupt passing lanes. Snowden is a smooth athlete who moves well but can get lost in coverage. Improving his coverage technique will help him unlock even more versatility. Snowden needs to add weight and strength and clearly has the frame do so, this will help him a ton as a run defender. It’s hard to figure out Snowden right now, his size is rare and he’s got a ton of raw athleticism.
There are few 2020 NFL Draft prospects more interesting than Virginia LB Charles Snowden (#11). His length and athleticism are impressive. Stretches out the option here and gets the stop. pic.twitter.com/s33gwv1ekt
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) June 21, 2019
Second Team: Justin Strnad, Wake Forest
Third Team: Zach McCloud, Miami
CB- Bryce Hall, Virginia, Sr (6-1, 200)
- This is not an exaggeration, if Bryce Hall came out in the 2019 NFL Draft he would have been the first cornerback off the board and a top 15 pick. Bryce Hall is back at Virginia for his senior season and the most NFL-ready CB in the country. Nobody has better ball skills than Hall, he consistently locates and breaks up passes. He’s got a knack for playing through contact to lodge the ball out. In man coverage, he’s technically sound with his mirroring thanks to great footwork and use of length. In zone his instincts and reaction time allow him to come down on receivers to break up balls and bait QBs to make plays. There is no clear flaw in Hall’s game. He’s got NFL size/length, incredible ball skills, elite technique, and he’s physical. As long as the athletic testing is strong, he’ll go early.
Second Team: AJ Terrell, Clemson
Third Team: Dane Jackson, Pittsburgh
NB- Trajan Bandy, Miami, Jr (5-9, 188)
- Will “The U” ever be back? Nobody knows for sure, but they still produce NFL talent and their defense is loaded this season. One of their more talented prospects who isn’t mentioned enough is Trajan Bandy. The junior is undersized at CB but makes up for it with his feistiness and physicality. Bandy is the perfect type of player to make the move inside to nickel in the NFL. He’s an instinctual zone corner with the ball skills to consistently locate and break up plays. For him to take the next step this season he needs to cut down on his missteps in coverage and get stronger in press-man to make up for his lack of size.
Miami CB Trajan Bandy gets beat off the release, but does a great job reading the QB and recovering to make the INT. A name to watch in the 2020 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/9pIToBUZza
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) April 28, 2019
Second Team: Essang Bassey, Wake Forest
Third Team: Jalen Elliott, Notre Dame
S- Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State, Jr (6-3, 215)
- For NFL teams looking for a big versatile and athletic safety look no further than Hamsah Nasirildeen. He’s almost like the discount version of Isaiah Simmons right now due to his lack of draft hype. Nasirildeen is one of the most aggressive safeties in the country and consistently explodes down on running plays to get involved. He always finishes around the football and he’s a consistent tackler who uses his length and explosion to make plays sideline-to-sideline. His flaw is inconsistency in coverage. Nasirildeen can get overly aggressive and grabby vs. more athletic pass catchers. Against bigger receivers, he can struggle to fight through contact and find the ball. A move to linebacker in the NFL is an interesting thought.
Second Team: Levonta Taylor, Florida State
Third Team: Reggie Floyd, Virginia Tech
S- Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame
- Notre Dame got lucky when Alohi Gilman transferred to them from Navy. Gilman has developed into one of the most entertaining safeties in the country and could go as high as Day 2. What makes Gilman so entertaining? His physical style of play and his versatility. Notre Dame asks him to play nickel, corner, dime LB, and as a two-deep safety. That versatility will be a huge bonus in the NFL’s eyes. Gilman is at his best around the line of scrimmage where he can fire up and make plays as a run defender or on screen passes. He is a see it, hit it type of player. In coverage, he does a good job matching up with tight ends and using his physicality to make up for size differences. Seeing improved footwork and looser hips this season will help his stock.
Second Team: Damar Hamlin, Pittsburgh
Third Team: Myles Dorn, North Carolina
CB- Stanford Samuels III, Florida State, Jr (6-1, 185)
- A lot of Florida State’s best prospects are being slept on right now due to the football team’s recent struggles. Stanford Samuels III has NFL traits and size but just needs more snaps to develop. He’s a young player and it shows at times with miscalculations in man coverage and panic when the ball is in the air. Despite these issues, he flashes impressive ability as a press-zone corner. His instincts are strong and his click and close is smooth. Samuels needs to show more of a willingness to tackle or the NFL is going to be scared off.
Second Team: Mark Gilbert, Duke
Third Team: Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame
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