Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 43 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 26 and 28.
Virginia Tech moves a lot of talent from last year’s offense into the 2012 NFL Draft — a sure-fire issue for the Hokies that remain. While none are necessarily blue-chippers once they begin their professional careers, this batch of college players were a huge part of last year’s BCS bid, and the team will struggle to prevent drop-off without them.
David Wilson, RB, Junior
As good as Tech QB Logan Thomas is, Wilson is the one who truly made their offense run so well throughout 2011. A reliable, strong runner, his ability to take the pressure off of Thomas allowed for a balanced, aggressive attack that the team will struggle to duplicate this season. As a junior last season, Wilson burst onto the scene by leading the ACC in rushing, while also playing an active role in the passing game. His 300-plus touches on the year were among the most in the conference, reinforcing thoughts on his durability, too. At the combine, he impressed once again by running a 4.40 40-yard dash — blazing speed that sealed his place among the top three or four players at his position, and quieted fears about his relative lack of size (5’10”, 210 pounds). He’s currently projected to go very early in the second round, however, if other running backs are taken earlier than conventional wisdom says, he may vault into the first round.
Jayron Hosley, CB, Junior
A force in the Virginia Tech secondary last year, Hosley consistently managed to get involved in pass defense. Overall, he managed just three interceptions, but more importantly, he also managed to defend another 12 passes — not surprising giving his 4.38 speed in the 40. Not just relegated to coverage, Jayron showed himself adjusting to where he was most needed, racking up 59 tackles despite missing two games. If there are concerns about him at all, they come down to his size (5’10”, 178 pounds), and how it translates to the NFL. Compared to most pro receivers, he’d be at a significant size disadvantage, and would rely on leaping ability to make an impact — not inconceivable. Given all that, he’s seen as a likely second round pick, and an effective third/fourth corner.
Eddie Whitley, FS, Senior
On paper, Whitley is your ideal NFL safety. In 2011, he recorded 83 tackles, can get a hand on the ball, has some height (he’s 6’1″), possesses great speed (4.39 40) and overall just knows how to take over a game in the secondary. Looking past the basics, scouts also have plenty of concerns, though. Strength is an issue at the safety position, and Whtley hasn’t proven he’s as aggressive a hitter as most teams would like to see out in the open field. Additionally, teams with speed on the outside repeatedly proved they could spread him and the entire Tech defense thin — something that doesn’t translate well to the NFL. While not a can’t-miss safety by any means, he would be a great value pick in the fourth or fifth round.
Jaymes Brooks, OG, Senior
Slightly undersized (he’s just under 300 pounds) for an NFL offensive line, Brooks has shown durability despite injuries while in college. In addition, his speed and strength are looked at as significant positives, with fewer offensive linemen today possessing the ability to truly beat their man off the snap and drive him to the ground. While Brooks may need to put on a few more pounds to do that at an elite level, his 5.20 40-speed make him a valuable commodity in the late rounds. Expect him to be selected between the late-sixth and early-seventh.
Jarrett Boykin, WR, Senior
Boykin put up decent numbers in his senior year, pulling in 60 balls for a little over 750 yards and five touchdowns. Unfortunately though, his combine numbers didn’t overly impress scouts enough. With a 4.72 40-time, he doesn’t register as that quick of a receiver, and could easily be blanketed by most of the league’s corners. Agility numbers were a bit better however, and he proved he can make the necessary cuts in the open field. While the pluses and minuses may seem to even each other out, Boykin will likely land somewhere post-draft, with a shot to prove himself in camp.
Danny Coale, WR, Senior
Danny Coale is a puzzling case for many scouts, since his intangibles (football smarts, field awareness) shine brighter than his stat line really hints at. A productive player during his four-year Tech career, he was more of a role-player than a premier receiver and would many times play second-fiddle to his counterpart, Boykin. His combine/pro day numbers do hint at possible under-utilization, however. Working out for scouts, Coale ran a 4.37 40, and showed off impressive leaping ability for his 6’0″ frame. On the other hand, his other big knock is a lack of elite agility, but that may just characterize him as more of a Ricky Proehl-type than anything else. If he’s drafted, it’ll be in the seventh round.
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