It is time to turn our attention to the stars on defense in the ACC starting with the defensive linemen.
Previous and Upcoming Rankings
1) Dadi Nicolas, Virginia Tech
The more I look at Virginia Tech defense, the more I think this could be one of the 5 most talented defenses in the country. I think as many as 8 Hokie players on defense are All-ACC caliber starting with the defensive line. Dadi Nicolas is an edge rushing nightmare for offenses. He had 9 sacks last year, and is projected as a 2nd or 3rd round NFL pick.
2) Ken Ekanem, Virginia Tech
Along with Dadi Nicolas, Ken Ekanem form the best pair of defensive ends in the ACC. Nicolas and Ekanem combined for 33 tackles for loss last season. The scary thing about Ekanem is I think he will be better than last year when he had 9.5 sacks. I’ve seen mock drafts with Ekanem going as high as the 2nd round.
3) Sheldon Rankins, Louisville
Louisville has some quality talent on their defense, and Sheldon Rankins may be the best of the bunch. He’s 6’2″ 302 lb defensive end. A very disruptive player, he had 8 sacks last year, 13.5 tackles for loss and 53 total tackles. Rankins is the anchor of Louisville’s defense.
4) Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech
Adam Gotsis will go down as one of Paul Johnson’s best recruiting sleeper finds. Gotsis, from Australia, was a raw talent without much American Football experience. He’s worked himself into an All-ACC player. Gotsis had 14.5 tackles for loss last year, and NFL scouts are taking notice. He’s a legitimate NFL prospect.
5) Devonte Fields, Louisville
Devonte Fields was the 2012 defensive player of the year. Due to off the field troubles he played at Trinity Valley Community College last year. If he can return to his TCU form where he had 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss, the Louisville defensive front is as good as any in the ACC outside of Virginia Tech.