2012 NFL Draft: Determining the Best Landing Spots for ACC Studs

Sam DrakeCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Determining the Best Landing Spots for ACC Studs

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    The ACC has its fair share of stars deciding to enter the NFL draft this year.

    These players have been some of the best to come through their respective schools and now have a chance to complete on the sports biggest stage.

    First, they must show off their talent in the NFL combine. From there, many people will try to predict where each star is going to end up. 

    These players listed are in no way, shape or form gonna be exactly where they end up in spring, but thi is based off of what team needs what and where they would fit in best.

    This is not the order that these players will be drafted in either.

Quinton Coples: North Carolina

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    Standing 6-6 and weighing 285 lbs, Quinton Coples is a beast

    He possesses an explosive first step that can propel him through the offensive line, but might not have the necessary speed to get around tackles. He uses his length to his advantage to drag down the opposing quarterback. He doesn't have great closing speed, but his length more than makes up for that.

    He does lack some strength that most defensive tackles have, so it makes sense to put him at defensive end. Also, there are a few questions concerning his intensity on every play.

    One team that could draft Coples is the Jacksonville Jaguars. They desperately need pass-rushers, as they sacked opposing QBs less than two times a game last year. The Jaguars run a 4-3 defensive system, which Coples easily fits into. Jacksonville needs to upgrade its talent on the defense to support their two linebackers in Paul Posluszny and Daryl Smith.

Luke Kuechly: Boston College

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    Luke Kuechly is a very instinctive middle linebacker. He has a great feel for the game and is rarely fooled by misdirection plays. He has a terrific motor and doesn't give up on a play. He will chase after a player until the whistle blows.

    Kuechly is a much better run-stopper than a pass defender. What he doesn't have in pass defense, he makes up in tackling. Rarely will an offensive player get away from his grasp.

    If he is still available, the Seahawks will take a good long look at him for their 12th pick.

    Last year, Seattle had a fast defense but lacked good middle linebacking play. Since the team decided to cut ties with the ultra-popular middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu last season, there has been a significant hole at the position.

    With Leroy Hill the only reliable linebacker on the roster, Seattle is definitely looking to upgrade. The only problem is the Hill is set to become a free agent.

Lamar Miller: Miami

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    Behind Trent Richardson, Lamar Miller is probably the best running back available.

    He can accelerate to top speed in no time at all, which is very important to get to the corner before the defense can stop the runner. He might not have the ability to get through the hole quickly like Richardson, but once through, he has the ability to break away from defenders using his speed. 

    Miller has good vision and cutback ability, as well as good balance, which can make him a terror to bring down. He has shown flashes of receiving ability, but has only caught 28 passes overall in college.

    He does have a return game, returning 15 kicks for 376 yard (25.1 yards per return).

    If David DeCastro is gone before Cincinnati picks, then the Bengals will select Miller 21st overall.

    Cedric Benson appears to not be returning next year, and that leaves a gaping hole at running back. The Bengals would have some of the youngest core players in the league in Andy Dalton and Jerome Simpson, boding well for them in the future.

Zack Brown: North Carolina

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    Zack Brown is a straight up athlete. He was a two-sport star for the University of North Carolina. He excelled at both football and track.

    Brown only measures 6'2" and 230 lbs, and he lacks strength needed for a 3-4 defense, but he has the ability to play in a 4-3 system at the weak-side linebacker position. 

    Since he only has 11 career starts under his belt, there are still a lot of things that he needs to work on. He will be an intriguing prospect for some teams based solely on his incredible speed.

    Brown could very well end up with the Cleveland Brown. He would work with D'Qwell Jackson and refine his skills. He would provide terrific speed on the outside and could get into the offensive backfield extremely fast. 

    The Buffalo Bills are also another spot where Brown could end up because the Bills have a great need for an OLB.

Andre Branch: Clemson

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    Andre Branch is another in the line of good Clemson defensive ends.

    He might not be the biggest (only 6'4", 260 lbs), but what he lack in size, he has in substantial athleticism. He possesses long arms and big hands, which make it easier to knock a thrown pass out of the air.

    Branch is a much better pass-rusher because he uses his speed to get to the QB. He also uses his speed to purse running backs along the line of scrimmage. In order for Branch to become better at run defense, he is going to have to bulk up and learn to elude and shuck-blockers.

    New England is one possible team that will pick up Branch. They showed during the entire 2011 season that their defense is not very good. They are going to have to reload their defensive line and replace some linebackers as well as their secondary. He would fit in with the Patriots 3-4 defensive scheme.

    There is a possibility that the Patriots could even draft Branch with the intention of making him an outside linebacker because of his speed and size. 

David Wilson: Virginia Tech

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    David Wilson is leaving Virginia Tech will all sorts of accolades. He was named first-team All-ACC and second-team All-American. He set the single-season rushing record during his last year, with 1,709 yards on 290 carries.

    He is a strong runner who is hard to bring down because of his strength. He has a smooth acceleration and can reach top speed in a short amount of time. Wilson is one of the fastest backs that is entering the 2012 draft. When running down the sideline, he has exceptional balance and quite often stays on his feet.

    There are times when Wilson is indecisive when a hole isn't open and he can make bad decisions, like running into a wall of defenders. Other times, he will run back and forth behind the line of scrimmage until he is brought down for a loss.

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be a good fit for Wilson. They already have a strong, powerful back in LeGarrette Blount and could benefit greatly from having a speed back.

Dwayne Allen: Clemson

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    Dwayne Allen is the best tight end prospect in the draft this year.

    He has hands of a receiver, soft and consistent. He will quickly pull in a pass and protect it immediately.

    He is big and strong enough to break tackles at the NFL level and comes off the snap low and hard. He has excellent acceleration for a tight end, which will translate well in the NFL for many catches and yards. 

    He is vulnerable in the blocking game, but he shows the willingness to learn. He fits the form of catching tight ends like Ed Dickson of the Baltimore Ravens.

    What he has going for him is that he played in an NFL style while at Clemson.

    The New York Giants will find Allen hard to pass up.

    Watching the Giants last year, it seemed as if all the tight ends got hurt, which, in turn, hurt their running and passing game. Adding some youth to the position would be a huge boost to the organization.