Led by Travis Etienne, the ACC returns a plethora of NFL-ready talent in 2021

With only three first round picks, the 2020 NFL Draft proved to be a bit of a downer for the ACC. (Although the ACC did finish with 27 players drafted, the fourth most of any single conference.) However, a fair amount of talent returns to the league — including a strong group of players that could’ve declared for the 2020 draft, too.

Pro Football Focus put out its list of the top 25 prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft that elected to return to school for the 2020 season. Of that group, eight come from the ACC, including the No. 1 overall prospect: Travis Etienne. (This group doesn’t account for someone like Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence, who won’t become draft eligible until 2021.)


No. 1 Travis Etienne — Clemson, RB

  • 91 broken tackles on 207 carries in 2019, per PFF
  • As a junior in 2019, Etienne followed his master sophomore performance — 1,658 rushing yards and an ACC-record 24 rushing touchdowns — with another ridiculous effort. Etienne again eclipsed 1,600 rushing yards; he accounted for 23 total touchdowns.
  • Etienne posted eight 100-yard rushing performances, all with 17 or fewer carries.
  • Over the last 20 seasons of college football, only seven players have run for 1,600+ yards on fewer than 215 carries in the same season. That list includes Reggie Bush, Kareem Hunt, Melvin Gordon and Matt Breida. Etienne is the only player to do that on more than one occasion.

No. 2 Marvin Wilson — Florida State, DT

  • 20 pressures over his first four games, per PFF
  • In nine games: recorded 44 tackles, including 8.5 for loss, team-high 5.0 sacks (No. 20 ACC), one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, four pass breakups
  • Along with Isaiah Simmons — one of only 21 FBS players with 5.0 sacks, 4.0 pass breakups


No. 3 Caleb Farley — Virginia Tech, CB

  • Good size and speed: 6-foot-2, 4.37 in the 40 (2017)
  • Led the ACC in passes defended with 16 (1.45 per game)
  • Tied for second in the league with four interceptions
  • One of only six ACC players over the last two seasons with 50 combined tackles and six interceptions

No. 7 Carlos Basham — Wake Forest, Edge

  • Has an awesome nickname: Boogie
  • Second in the ACC with 0.85 sacks per game (11 total)
  • 18 tackles for loss in 2019, second in the ACC
  • Over the last two seasons, one of only two ACC players with 14+ sacks and at least three forced fumbles

No. 12 Chris Rumph — Duke, Edge

  • According to PFF: Rumph’s 31.6% pass-rushing win rate was No. 1 in the FBS
    • Ohio State’s Chase Young, the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft, was second: 27.2%
  •  Rumph (just 225 pounds) finished the 2019 season with a 14-pressure outing against Miami (3.5 sacks)
  • Collected 6.5 sacks during the 2019 season, tied for 11th in the conference

No. 16 Sage Surratt — Wake Forest, WR

  • 66 receptions for 1,001 yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games (shoulder injury)
  • 111.2 receiving yards per game; tops in the ACC
  • Second in the ACC in receptions per game: 7.3
  • A power receiver that stands 6-foot-3; broke 17 tackles after the catch in 2019

No. 23 Quincy Roche — Miami, Edge*

  • Transferred from Temple to Miami in January
    • Roche and Gregory Rosseau (not eligible for the 2020 draft) should be quite the combination next season
  • 68 total pressures at Temple in 2019, per PFF
  • 26 career sacks while at Temple, including 13 last season — No. 7 in the FBS
  • One of only seven FBS players with 25+ sacks combined over the last three seasons

No. 24 Tamorrion Terry — Florida State, WR

  • Averaged 20.3 yards per catch over the last two seasons (95 receptions); also broke a combined 15 tackles during the 2018-19 seasons, per PFF
  • Finished the 2019 season with 1,188 receiving yards, good for 19.8 yards per catch — both ranked second in the ACC
    • Led the ACC with seven catches of 50+ yards


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