ACC talent selected in droves throughout NFL draft

The Buffalo Bills moved heaven and earth to land Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins in Round 1 of the NFL draft, surrendering two first-round picks (2014, 2015) and one fourth-rounder in 2015.

But 27 of the 42 players were taken on Saturday, meaning just 15 went in the first three rounds.

Still, of the first 14 players taken, four hailed from the ACC (and five of the first 28).

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins of Clemson led the way at No. 4 overall (Bills), while UNC tight end Eric Ebron got drafted into a great situation in Detroit at No. 10. Then, Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald went 13th to the St. Louis Rams (giving the club one of the best defensive lines in football), while Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller went 14th to the Bears.

The wide receiver-deficient Panthers picked up Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin at No. 28. The long, athletic Seminoles receiver should see plenty of playing time, even if he doesn’t start off the bat.

Beyond that, though, just nine ACC players went between picks 29-99. The ACC had the somewhat dubious distinction of leading all conferences in players selected on Saturday.

Here’s the good news from that: For the middle and latter rounds, ACC players tend to stick with their original teams.

All 31 ACC players drafted in 2013 are still in the NFL, while 60 of the 62 players drafted over the last two seasons are still in the league, as well.

It’s even better going out three years — 87 out of 97 are still in the league, an impressive numbers, considering the average NFL career is usually far too short.

Since 2005, the ACC has had 353 players chosen in the draft and 56 first-round picks, but just one national title (last year).

Florida State, the reigning national champions, led the league in picks with seven. Clemson and UNC tied for second at five picks each, and Boston College had four.

And then Duke, NC State, Wake and Maryland had one player chosen each. All of those teams were not very good — except, of course, for Duke, which won the Coastal Division.

Success and draft picks doesn’t always correlate from year to year, and there are, at times, extenuating circumstances as to why a team’s record doesn’t line up with its draft picks.

But since 2006 — the year that the ACC had a record 51 players chosen in the draft — it’s interesting to see how the two figures stack up:

Florida State has had the most draft picks in that span, and the second-most ACC wins. The Seminoles also have two ACC titles and one other championship game appearance.

Clemson ranks third with 38 picks and has one league championship (but two division titles). Still, the whole competing against FSU thing should be taken into account, if we’re being fair.

There are two interesting cases, though. One is Virginia Tech, which is fourth in draft picks (37) and first in wins (78), not to mention their three league titles and four Coastal Division crowns.

Miami, second in draft picks with 41, has zero of either to its name.

Then there’s the interesting quandary of the "middle" teams: UNC, North Carolina State and Virginia are fifth, sixth and seventh in total picks since 2006, respectively (UNC with 30, NC State with 25 and Virginia with 22).

But none have ACC titles, and they’re also 7th, 9th and 10th in ACC wins in that span.

The bottom four teams in total draft picks since 2006 all have at least one division title to their name, though, and two have an ACC title. Georgia Tech has the most (one title, three Division titles) with just 21 draft picks, while Wake has had 18 draft picks and an ACC title.

Boston College has had 17 picks and two Division crowns, while Duke has had just two picks (both in the last two years) and still won the Coastal crown last season. Boston College also has the fifth-most wins of any ACC team since 2006, while Georgia Tech is fourth, and both have had at least 20 fewer draft picks than Miami — which, is sixth in wins with no Division crowns — in that same span.

The point being, of course, you have to have talent.

Now that Florida State is back, though, it might be difficult for any team in either Division to get past the Seminoles, in draft picks (18 in the last two years) or wins (26 in the last two years).