We are now headed to the defensive side ball, starting with the defensive line. There’s a lot of talent here in the ACC, and I had to leave some quality linemen off my top 5 list. This is a good sign that the ACC is getting better across the both lines of scrimmage.
1) Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
This is a real shocker here. another Florida State player is on of the 5 best players in one of the these position rankings. Timmy Jernigan is coming off a season where he wasn’t even a full time starter. He still earned All-ACC honorable mention played behind a talented Seminole defensive line. He’s gets off the ball quickly, and has more than a dozen tackles for loss as a part-time player the last 2 years. Most NFL scouts have him as a 1st round talent. He has the potential to be a dominant defensive lineman.
2) Kareem Martin, North Carolina
It was a razor thin choice to list Jernigan over DE Kareem Martin of UNC. Make no mistake Martin is an extremely talented player who possess NFL size at 6-6 265 lb. He’s also a projected 1st round NFL draft pick. Martin had 40 tackles with 15 behind the line of scrimmage. As good as Martin has been, some scouts believe he can even be better in 2013. Now that’s a scary thought. By the way, are you noticing a lot of UNC players on these lists? Yea me too.
3) James Gayle, Virginia Tech
Last year was not a vintage year at Virginia Tech, but don’t blame DE James Gayle. Gayle is another in a long list of NFL caliber defensive ends to play at Virginia Tech in recent years. The 6-4 269 lb DE was a 2nd Team All-ACC player last season. Remember FSU RB James Wilder being listed as one of the 20 biggest athletic freaks in college football? James Gayle made that list too. He’s considered to be one of the 10 best senior DE’s in the country.
4) Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Who was one of the best defensive linemen in the Big East last season? It was DT Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh. Donald was 1st All-Big East player, after leading the Big East 1.54 Tackles for Loss a game. You’ll even find his name on a handful 2nd and 3rd team pre-season All-Americans. NFL Scouts have him projected as 3rd-5th round pick despite being a bit undersized for a DT 6-0, 275 lbs.
5) Jeremiah Attacochu, Georgia Tech
Jeremiah Attachochu is one of the most versatile defenders in the ACC. He was Honorable Mention All-ACC the last 2 years playing the LB position. This season you will him see more at DE as the Jackets switch from the 3-4 to 4-3 defense. He’s one of the better pass rushers in Georgia Tech history ranking 8th all-time before this season. He will defiantly be an NFL draft pick, where is the question. I’ve seen him projected anywhere from a late 1st rounder to a 5th-6th round pick.