ACC At The Draft: Conference places 3 players in Round 1
The ACC wasted little time adding to its reputation as a premier source of NFL talent, placing three players in the top 12 picks of the 2017 NFL draft on Thursday night.
The stream of ACC-affiliated slowed in the final hours of the first round, however, with just one player being taken after Deshaun Watson at No. 12. Here's a quick breakdown of the league's first-round picks and their landing spots.
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No. 2 overall: QB Mitchell Trubisky, Bears
2016 stats: 3,748 passing yards, 35 total touchdowns, six interceptions
Fit: The Chicago Bears are searching for their next answer at quarterback in the post-Jay Cutler Era, but the price paid will put a spotlight on the relatively inexperienced Tar Heels signal-caller from Day 1. To move up one spot on Thursday night — from No. 3 to No. 2 overall — Chicago's front office threw in a pick swap, the 67th and 111th selection and a future third-rounder, presumably convinced of a bidding war for Trubisky's services.
Trubisky was prolific in his lone season as a starter in college, racking up yardage while avoiding mistakes in Larry Fedora's air-raid attack. Chicago acquired Mike Glennon this offseason, but given the haul of picks required to draft Trubisky he could see the field early in Chicago.
Standing 6-foot-3 with desirable physical tangibles, he fits the cold-weather quarterback mold and he possesses a mature approach in the pocket, but he will eventually need to prove he was worth going before his more experienced and successful collegiate counterparts.
Fit: Another offensive playmaker for veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, Williams gives the newly minted Los Angeles franchise a potent 1-2 receiving combination alongside Keenan Allen. Add Williams, one of the heroes of Clemson's title run, to Allen and running back Melvin Gordon and the NFL's ninth-best scoring offense (without Allen for most of the year) just got more interesting.
Williams recovered from a scary neck injury during the 2015 season to establish himself as one of college football's most dangerous downfield threats. He immediately became Deshaun Watson's No. 1 target by a mile. At 6-foot-3, he possesses prototypical size to be a future No. 1 in the league. The Chargers took a major gamble by ignoring the fourth-worst scoring defense that needs help, but Williams could become a star in L.A.
Fit: Clemson's most productive NFL product, meet the greatest player in Tigers history. The Texans, much like the two teams drafting quarterbacks before them, paid a punitive price to move up from No. 25 to the 12th overall to solve its long-term quarterback mystery and pair Watson with star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Watson's resume needs little introduction at this point.
After leading Clemson to back-to-back championship games — torching Nick Saban's juggernaut on two occasions — and the 2016 national title, Watson's ability to rise to the moment is unquestioned. Though he struggled with turnovers (17 interceptions) and, at times, going through progressions in his junior year, he entered the draft process as one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in recent memory ... with the physical attributes to boot.
If Watson hits his ceiling, the price the Texans paid for his services will be well worth it.
Fit: After selecting two possible defensive studs in Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers, the busiest team of Round 1 swung for the fences with the Miami Hurricanes' outrageously gifted tight end. While production has never quite matched the measurables (it'd be difficult), David Njoku broke out in his first year in Mark Richt's system, nearly doubling his yardage and scoring seven more touchdowns while catching passes from fellow NFL talent Brad Kaaya.
If the 6-foot-4 20-year-old is not the most athletic player in the draft, he's on the short list after running a 4.64 40-yard dash with a 37-inch vertical. As Cleveland continues to stock up on young talent, its quarterback question remains ... but Garrett, Peppers and Njoku provides an immediate influx of talent.