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Green Bay Packers Prospect Watchlist: Scouting the ACC

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Green Bay Packers Prospect Watchlist: Scouting the ACC

The 2017 college football season is about to get underway, and while it's way too early to start discussing the 2018 NFL Draft, it's never a bad idea to get an idea of the next-level talent at the collegiate level.

 

The Green Bay Packers are an organization that largely builds their roster through the draft, and the team scouts will be on the road each week come September looking for the next generation of talent to add to their roster.

 

While it's difficult to get an exact idea of the roster needs the Packers will face next offseason, as fans we have a general idea of the areas the team will look to improve in the spring.

Finding more pass rushers will certainly be a priority, given Clay Matthews' age and the recent loss of Julius Peppers and Datone Jones. Inside linebacker continues to be a need on the roster and there are also no guarantees at defensive back.

If Damarious Randall and Quentin Rollins have another bad season they could be gone next year. Veteran safety Morgan Burnett is set to be a free agent in the offseason and Haha Clinton-Dix is going into the final year of his contract.

On the offensive side of the ball any position outside of quarterback could be a need next year. The Packers have star players at wide receiver and tight end that are over 30-years-old, and Davante Adams and Corey Linsley are starters entering contract years.

Having said this, it's never a bad idea to get a feel for the potential NFL prospects currently in college football. With that in mind, we bring you a college football series that highlights the top players in each major conference, starting with the ACC.

 

NFL Watchlist: ACC Prospects

Boston College

(2 prospects) - DE Harold Landry, LB Connor Strachan

Harold Landry is one of the more high-profile edge rushers in the upcoming draft class. He’s a dynamic 6-foot-3 and 250-pound defensive end who is coming off a junior season where he recorded 16.5 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, and seven quarterback hurries. He's also athletic enough to move to 3-4 outside linebacker and a player Packers fans should pay attention to this fall. If he matches his impressive 2016 production he could be a lock for the first round. Connor Strachan is an undersized linebacker who makes a lot of plays against the run and could sneak into the later rounds of the draft with a strong senior season.

Clemson

(8 prospects) - WR Deon Cain, LT Mitch Hyatt, DE Clelin Ferrell, DT Dexter Lawrence, DT Christian Wilkins, DE Austin Bryant, LB Kendall Joseph, FS Van Smith

The Tigers defense is full of future NFL talent. Their front four could all play on Sundays some day. Christian Wilkins is dominant in the trenches and headlines the 2018 defensive line class. He’s explosive off the snap and makes a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage. Dexter Lawrence is a monster 6-foot-5, 340-pound run stuffer, and defensive ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant are also notable prospects. Ferrell is only a redshirt sophomore, but if he puts together another strong season he could enter the draft early and be a first-round prospect. He'd be a tremendous fit as an edge rusher in the Packers system. Mitch Hyatt and Deon Cain are also early-round prospects. Cain is an electric playmaker with the ball in his hands and one of the top receivers in college football.

Florida State

(10 prospects) - QB Deondre Francois, WR Auden Tate, TE Ryan Izzo, DT Derrick Nnadi, Edge Josh Sweat, Edge Jacob Pugh, LB Matthew Thomas, CB Tarvarus McFadden, FS Derwin James, SS Trey Marshall

The Florida State roster is also loaded with elite talent. Defensive backs Derwin James and Tarvarus McFadden are the top prospects at their position and likely top-20 picks in next year's draft. After sitting out the entire 2016 season because of injury, James should have a monster 2017 season and be the talk of college football. Quarterback Deondre Francois shows some intriguing traits, while Derrick Nnadi and Josh Sweat could be early-round defensive line prospects with strong seasons. McFadden in particular could be a player the Packers target if things don't workout with Damarious Randall or Quentin Rollins.

Louisville

(6 prospects) - QB Lamar Jackson, WR Jaylen Smith, OLB James Hearns, DE Trevon Young, CB Jaire Alexander, SS Chucky Williams

Jackson is perhaps the most electric player in college football, but his projection to the NFL still seems unclear. He may have to switch positions at the next level unless he shows more pocket poise this season. Jaire Alexander is a top-five cornerback and coming off a season where he recorded five interceptions and 14 pass defensed. He's a player the Packers could consider in the first round, while guys like Hearns and Young could be mid-round options at outside linebacker.

Miami

(3 prospects) - RB Mark Walton, DE Chad Thomas, DT Kendrick Norton

It doesn’t appear the Hurricanes have an early-round prospect on their roster right now. However, Chad Thomas and Kendrick Norton are decent defensive linemen who could land in the middle rounds with strong seasons. Halfback Mark Walton is probably their best player, but he’s a bit of a one-dimensional runner.

North Carolina

(4 prospect) - DL Jeremiah Clarke, LB Andre Smith, CB MJ Stewart, SS Donnie Miles

Miles almost declared for the draft last year and is the top prospect on North Carolina's roster heading into the 2017 season. He’s a physical downhill safety and the leader of the Tar Heels defense. Last year alone he recorded 102 stops, and he should build off a solid junior campaign this year. He's a legitimate option for the Packers if they decide to part ways with veteran Morgan Burnett after this year. Stewart is another defensive back to keep an eye on. He's an excellent nickel cornerback who's physical and possesses great instincts. However, he's undersized and will need to test well in the spring to be considered in the early rounds.

NC State

(5 prospects) - HB Jaylen Samuels, OT Tyler Jones, DT BJ Hill, DT Justin Jones, DE Bradley Chubb

NC State has one of the best defensive lines in the country. Bradley Chubb has the potential to be a first-round edge prospect. He recorded 10.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss as a junior. Expect his name to grow in popularity as the college season progresses. His fit in Green Bay would be incredible, giving them a versatile edge defender. BJ Hill and Justin Jones are athletic defensive tackles with some pass rush ability. The Wolfpack’s defensive front should be dominate this season.

Pittsburgh

(4 prospects) - QB Max Brown, WR Jester Weah, FS Jordan Whitehead, DT Kamonte Carter

Max Brown is a solid college quarterback who could make a case for a middle-round selection in the draft with a strong senior season. He could be guy the Packers take a close look at if they decide to trade Brett Hundley next offseason. Jester Weah led the Panthers in receiving as a junior, and his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame should get him noticed by pro scouts. Kamonte Carter is the highly talented defensive tackle featured in the second season of the Netflix series “Last Chance U”. He may not declare for the NFL until the 2019 Draft, but the junior is still a player to keep an eye on throughout the year. 

Syracuse

(2 prospects) - LB Parris Bennett, LB Zaire Franklin

Syracuse has two active linebackers who could get late-round considerations in the draft if they continue their on-field success. Both Bennett and Franklin are tackling machines. Franklin in particular possesses an NFL frame and shows a knack for reading opposing offenses. He'd be a nice fit with the Packers on day three of the draft.

Virginia

(3 prospects) - DE Andrew Brown, LB Micah Kiser, FS Quin Blanding

Quin Blanding is the top prospect on the Cavaliers roster. He’s a versatile safety with tremendous size (6-2, 215) and nose for the ball. His ability to move up and play against the run in the box or shadow a receiver out of the slot makes him a great fit for the modern NFL. He should get early-round considerations in the draft. Linebacker Micah Kiser is also a very solid defensive prospect. He led Virginia in tackles (134) and sacks (6.5) last year and he has the potential to be a mid-round pick next spring. Green Bay could use a consistent run-stopping presence like Kiser in the middle of their defense.

Virginia Tech

(3 prospects) - RB Travon McMillan, LB Tremaine Edmunds, CB Brandon Facyson

Brandon Facyson seemed like a Day Two defensive back prospect last year when he was considering declaring a year early for the NFL. However, Facyson is returning for his senior season and he should be a top-ten cornerback prospect in the 2018 class. His 6-foot-2, 197 frame is rare for the position. Tremaine Edmunds is an uniquely built inside linebaker (6-5, 236) whose size and game resemble Texans starting linebacker and former second-round pick Benardrick McKinney. Edmunds would be an exciting prospect to watch in a Dom Capers defense.

Wake Forest

(2 prospects) - TE Cam Serigne, DE Duke Ejiofor

On the cusp of a new season, defensive end Duke Ejiofor might be the best college edge prospect nobody is talking about. At 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds, Ejiofor has an NFL look. He’s also an explosive athlete and is coming off a junior season where he recorded 10.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. The Demon Deacons have another draftable prospect on their roster in tight end Cam Serigne. He was one of Wake Forest’s leading receivers last year and his versatility to also play H-back should get some NFL teams’ attention. Both players would be great fits in Green Bay.

*Not any prospects on the watchlist at the moment for Georgia Tech or Duke

Top-10 ACC Prospects

  1. Derwin James, FS, Florida State
  2. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
  3. Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
  4. Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State
  5. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
  6. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
  7. Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
  8. Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State
  9. Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
  10. Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (4) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Spock's picture

My only comment: odd time of year for this article; it would have been fine for the off-season. Just seems weird to me.

Jersey Al's picture

Like Ted Thompson, we are always looking to the future here at CHTV. We have some really good NFL draft scouts/evaluators on board this year, so we will be bringing you College prospect reports throughout the college season. If it's too early for you, no problem. Our draftnik fans will enjoy it.

Spock's picture

Well, off topic (LOL) I absolutely loved this quote from Josh Jones on Packers.com: "Now enter Jones, who by all accounts will be making an impact as a rookie and has been all business since his arrival.

“That’s the NFL, man. You got drafted, it’s time to show up,” Jones said. “There ain’t no redshirt year, like in college. You have to put on your big-boy pads and step up and be a man. This is a job. It’s not school. School’s over with.”

Got to LOVE that attitude!

WKUPackFan's picture

Jaire Alexander can flat out play. He'll shut down one side of the field for U of L. Excellent return man also.

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