How the ACC stands in the NFL
Posted October 13, 2011
We’re approaching week six of the NFL season and the storylines are far from what most would have thought they’d be.
It’s always interesting to see what teams and players emerge into success. And around the Triangle you can’t help keeping tabs on former college players as they build their NFL career.
As of Oct. 13 there are 272 Atlantic Coast Conference players on NFL rosters this season. That includes the practice squad members and players who have been put on injured reserve.
Miami alum lead the pack with 48 players, as far as the teams around here, North Carolina has 25, North Carolina State has 15 and Duke trails all the ACC with five.
Several rookies have settled in with the team that drafted them and players with a few years under their belt are really starting to make an impact. (Need I mention Miami’s Jimmy Graham, tight end for the Saints or UNC’s Hakeem Nicks, wide receiver for the Giants.)
Then there are the guys like Miami’s Ray Lewis (16 yrs.), UNC’s Jeff Saturday (13) and Clemson’s Brian Dawkins (16) who have been around forever.
So who’s had the best season so far? And who’s had the best career to date? It’s obviously debatable – so why don’t we take shot. And I'm sure you'll have your own opinions, so feel free to share.
Best success story:
Former North Carolina football and basketball player Jesse Holley: Holley went undrafted out of college and saw brief time with the Bengals before spending a year in the Canadian Football League. Holley won his way onto a NFL roster through Michael Irvin’s reality TV show ‘4th and Long’. After winning the reality show he signed with the Cowboys on July 21, 2009. This year Holley’s 77 yard catch and run from Tony Romo in the first play of overtime against the 49ers set up the Cowboys win. And now no one will forget who he is.
Rookies bound for best careers:
On the defensive side, former UNC corner Da’Norris Searcy who currently plays for the Bills or Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers who’s playing for Tampa Bay. Bowers has had six tackles so far this season, and his numbers in Clemson were impressive (179 tackles, 47 quarterback pressures, and six pass breakups in just three seasons). Maybe if Marvin Austin had not torn his pectoral muscle in the preseason he may be making noise already, but he may live up to the hype for the Giants one day.
Offensive side, Torrey Smith out of Maryland has already earned the number one spot on the Ravens receiving corps (with 153 yards and three touchdowns this season) and UNC’s WR Greg Little (Cleveland Browns) was a popular steal for those last fantasy draft spots.
This one could get testy, do you go with Miami’s Ray Lewis (LB, Baltimore) or North Carolina State’s Philip Rivers (QB, San Diego)? Or the two number one overall draft picks out of the ACC North Carolina State’s Mario Williams (OLB, Houston) and Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick (QB, Philadelphia). Maybe Miami’s Andre Johnson (WR, Houston) or maybe UNC’s Hakeem Nicks makes a play for it one day.
But for argument’s sake, I’m going with Philip Rivers. In his eight years of play Rivers has a 96.5% QB rating, he’s thrown for 21,197 yards with a completion percentage of 64 and he’s tallied 142 touchdowns. He’s arguably one of the top QB’s in the league right now.
All-ACC NFL Team:
Now my co-worker wanted to get in on the fun so he took some time to draft his All-ACC NFL team. I present Aaron Schoonmaker’s almost 54-man roster.
WR – Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson
TE – Heath Miller, Jimmy Graham
LT – D’Brickshaw Furgeson, Leroy Harris
LG –Chris Snee, Tyson Ward
C – Jeff Saturday, Brett Romberg
RG – Sean Locklear, Jeremy Trueblood
RT – Bryant McKinnie, Sean Locklear
WR – Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss
QB – Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan
RB – Frank Gore, Thomas Jones
LDE - Julius Peppers, Chris Long
LDT – Vince Wilfork, BJ Raji
RDT – Chris Canty, Darnell Docket
RDE – Vonnie Holliday, Da’Quan Bowers
WLB – Keith Brooking, Jon Beason
MLB – Jonathan Vilma, Ray Lewis
SLB – Shawne Merriman, Mario Williams
CB – Ronde Barber, DeAngelo Hall
SS – Ed Reed, Adrian Wilson
FS – Brian Dawkins
CB – Brandon Flowers, Antonio Cromartie
LS – Sebastian Jankikowski
P – Adam Podlesh
KR – Jacoby Ford
PR – Devin Hester