Miami’s defense has absolutely no excuses this year. I struggled to find one legitimate skill position player that Miami will see in 2018 that will be a high pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. There are talented players, no doubt about it. But not when it comes to top NFL-caliber guys. I decided that looking into the future would be fun because there are a couple of running backs that help make up an absolutely loaded sophomore class that won’t be draft eligible for another two years. Here is my best crack at the top NFL talent that the Miami Hurricane defense will be expected to exploit.
QB Daniel Jones, Duke
The Duke quarterback will be a junior in 2018 and I am not betting on him to take his talents to the NFL following the year, but is nonetheless draft eligible. Quietly, Jones is one of just two quarterbacks with over 5,500 passing yards and 1000 rushing yards for his career in the entire country. The other? Syracuse’s Eric Dungey.
At 6-5 220 pounds, Jones certainly fits the mold of what NFL scouts are looking for physically. A knock on him is that he turns the ball over a bit too much. He has 20 interceptions in his two years as the Blue Devils quarterback.
Jones has generated some pre-season hype. Phil Steele selected him a third team All-ACC quarterback in his magazine. He is also on the watch list for the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award and Manning Award.
C Alec Eberle, Florida State
Eberle has been a rock on what has been a fairly inconsistent Florida State offense line. In 2017 he was named Second Team All-ACC while blocking for Cam Akers, who broke the schools freshman rushing record, and helped lead a unit that collected over 400 rushing yards six times. Eberle is on the pre-season Rimington watch list for the nation’s best center and the Outland award watch list for the nation’s best interior lineman.
He has started 32 consecutive games dating back to 2015.
TE Tommy Sweeney, Boston College
Sweeney has the body of a prototypical NFL tight end at 6-5 255 pounds and the hands to make him a serious threat. As a sophomore in 2016, Sweeney finished third on the team in receiving. He improved on that by finishing atop the team as a junior by snagging 36 passes for 512 yards and four touchdowns in 2017 with Third Team All-ACC honors.
Sweeney has the potential to be one of the top tight ends in the 2019 NFL Draft, especially with another strong campaign. It shouldn't surprise anybody to see him as the First Team All-ACC tight end when the 2018 college football season is all said and done.
RB Cam Akers, Florida State (2020 Draft)
Akers came into Florida State with collosal expectations and managed to meet them. In 2017, Akers broke Dalvin Cook’s freshman rushing record with 1,024 yards while averaging 5.3 yards per carry. No, Akers will not be draft eligible in 2019. But he may be one of the best NFL prospects in the ACC.
Akers still has two years of college ball left before the NFL becomes a real possibility, but as of now he looks like he will be one a cadre of running backs that will be highly touted by NFL teams in the 2020 draft.
RB AJ Dillon, Boston College (2020 Draft)
Dillon was absolutely electric as a true freshman a year ago. On two separate occasions, Dillon lead the country in rushing yards for that week of college football. In week five he popped off for 272 yards and four touchdowns against Louisville and in week ten he went for 200 and two touchdowns against UConn. It truly is remarkable that Dillon was able to accumulate 1,589 yards rushing (7thnationally) so early in his career, but the tape shows you his unteachable vision and burst that puts him years ahead of the curve. Boston College will be must-watch TV simply because of him.
Dillon was the first Boston College player to ever win either ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year or ACC Rookie of the Year.