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ACC Proves To NFL That Star-Studded Talent Lies Deep Within Tobacco Road

The Miami Hurricanes have had their problems within the Atlantic Coast Conference of late, but it might not be all of their own doing. It just might be that other teams are loaded with talent. The NFL has taken note of the talent that has stacked the ACC and a total of 47 players were selected from the conference this past weekend. Another 50 are expected to have signed free-agency contracts with teams after the draft.

Miami Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker on stage with Commissioner Roger Goodell
Miami Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker on stage with Commissioner Roger Goodell
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest question that I and other Canes fans heard during the pendency of the NFL Draft this weekend was, "How Does Miami Have All This Talent And Still Manage To Go 6-7?".  It was all over social media and was a common question on Twitter for 72 hours. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network also mentioned it a few times during the network's coverage of the draft's meetings.

The simple answer that many people want to hear is "Al Golden, his staff and his scheme". However, it is much more than that.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is a very good football conference and it is loaded with talent. The National Football League recognized that this weekend.  The ACC finished up the 2015 National Football League draft in strong fashion, having a total of 47 players taken in the three-day event, the second-highest total in league history. The ACC had 51 picks in the 2005 Draft.

The dreaded Florida State Seminoles led all schools nationally with 11 players drafted. It marked the second time in three years the Seminoles have had the most draftees. FSU also set an NFL Draft record for a seven-round draft (since 1994) with 29 players taken in the last three drafts. The Seminoles had 11 players chosen in 2013, seven last year and 11 this year. The previous high was 28 originally set by the Miami Hurricanes during the 2002-04 drafts and tied by Southern California in the 2008-10 drafts.

Miami had seven players chosen in the draft, and has had 26 selections in the last five years. The Hurricanes lead all schools nationally with 61 first-round selections.

First-year ACC member Louisville also had a strong presence at the draft, as the Cardinals had a school-record 10 players chosen in the draft, the second highest total of any school nationally only to Florida State. Louisville’s previous all-time high was five, set in 2008. The Cardinals have had 14 players taken in the past two NFL Drafts, their highest two-year total ever. Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker became the first Cardinal wide receiver selected in the first round, being taken 14th overall.

Louisville’s final pick was also the 256th and final selection of the Draft and earned the title of "Mr. Irrelevant" of the NFL Draft for tight end Gerald Christian.  Christian was a transfer from the University of Florida and came to the program when former coach Charlie Strong left Florida for Louisville.

The selection of Christian as the final pick in the draft on Saturday meant the ACC had the first and last selections in the 2015 NFL Draft, as Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was the first player chosen on Thursday.

The ACC, which tied for the highest number of first-round selections with nine on Thursday night, had a total of 47 players drafted. That’s the second-highest total for a conference in this year’s NFL Draft. The ACC trailed only the SEC (54) and finished ahead of the Pac-12 (39), the Big Ten (35) and the Big 12 (25).

In all, 11 of the ACC’s 14 schools had at least one player drafted. In addition to Florida State (11) and Louisville (10), there were Miami (7), Clemson (5), Boston College (3), Georgia Tech (3), Duke (2), Virginia (2), Virginia Tech (2), Pitt (1) and Wake Forest (1).

The ACC had nine players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, its second highest total in history and tied with the Pac-12 for the most first round selections in this year’s Draft. The SEC was next (7) followed by the Big Ten (3), the Big 12 (2) and the American (2).

The conference also had 11 players chosen in the sixth round of the draft, which is its all-time high for sixth-round draftees. The previous best was nine in the 2011 draft.

When Clemson punter Bradley Pinion was drafted by San Francisco in the fifth round, it marked the 31st player selected for the ACC in this year’s Draft. The Conference has now had 31  or more players taken in the last 11 NFL Drafts. Only one other conference has a longer streak. Pinion was also the only punter or placekicker selected in this year’s NFL Draft. He will have a difficult time challenging incumbent Andy Lee, but fifth-round specialists typically make teams that draft them.

On Thursday night, Winston became the eighth player from a current ACC school to be chosen No. 1 in the NFL Draft. He is also the first Seminole to be the No. 1 pick. The last previous No. 1 pick for the ACC was Mario Williams of NC State who was chosen No. 1 in the 2006 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans.

The Bessemer, Ala., native joins fellow Seminole quarterbacks EJ Manuel (Buffalo Bills, No. 16, 2013) and Christian Ponder (Minnesota Vikings, No. 12, 2011) to give Florida State three consecutive signal callers drafted in the first round. It’s the first time a team has ever had three quarterbacks drafted in the first round in a five-year span in the modern era.

The ACC had three of the first nine players chosen overall, for the first time since having four of nine picked in 2009. The ACC also had four of the top 14 for the second straight year and six of the first 19 players selected.

With both Louisville’s DeVante Parker and Miami’s Phillip Dorsett taken in the first round that gives the ACC eight wide receivers taken in the first round of the draft beginning in 2009, the most of any conference.

Miami (41 straight years), Virginia (32 straight years) and Florida State (32 straight years) continued long streaks of having a player chosen in each NFL Draft.

When defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr, and defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, were selected in the second round of the NFL Draft as the 35th and 39th picks, Florida State set an NFL Draft record in the modern era for most players selected from one school in the first 40 selections with four in the first 39 selections.

When Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman was chosen by the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the NFL Draft, he became the third Miami player chosen in the first 48 selections. Miami had three players chosen in last year’s draft, but none before the 93rd pick. The last time the Hurricanes had three selected so high was in 2007, when three ‘Canes were chosen on the first round.

Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson was the 16th selection in the first round and is the fifth first-round pick in Wake Forest history. He is the third highest Deacon ever taken, the highest in 54 years, bettered only by Norm Snead (2nd overall pick) in 1961 and Elmer Barbour (10th overall selection) in 1945.

Duke senior G Laken Tomlinson was the first first-round draft selection for the Blue Devils, when he was chosen 28th overall by Detroit, since 1993 when QB Dave Brown was the 16th overall pick by the New York Giants. Duke, which also had wide receiver Jamison Crowder chosen in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins, had multiple players selected in the Draft for the first time since 1996.

Boston College had three players selected on Saturday with offensive tackle Ian Silberman taken in the sixth round by the San Francisco 49ers, center Andy Gallik, taken by the Tennessee Titans in the sixth round and defensive end Brian Mihalik tabbed by Philadelphia in the seventh round.

Georgia Tech also had three players chosen. Offensive guard Shaq Mason was  selected in the fourth round by the New England Patriots. On the very next pick, wide receiver DeAndre Smelter was taken by the San Francisco 49ers and fellow wide receiver Darren Waller was tabbed by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round. The Yellow Jackets are one of only three teams to have two wide receivers drafted, joining Ohio State and Missouri.

Virginia had two players taken in the draft. The Cavaliers’ defensive end Eli Harold was selected in the third round by the San Francisco 49ers and outside linebacker Max Valles was chosen in the sixth round by the Oakland Raiders.

Pitt offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings was selected in the fourth round by the Minnesota Vikings.

When Virginia Tech safety Kyshoen Jarrett was taken as the 181st pick in the sixth round, Virginia Tech continued their streak of having a player drafted in each of the last 22 years, a skein which began with the 1994 NFL Draft. The Hokies also had offensive tackle Lawrence Gibson drafted in the seventh round.