Georgia Tech vs. Clemson: Top NFL Prospects from Upcoming ACC Clash

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIINovember 14, 2013

CLEMSON, SC - AUGUST 31:  Sammy Watkins #2 of the Clemson Tigers during their game at Memorial Stadium on August 31, 2013 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

On Thursday, Nov. 14, the No. 8 Clemson Tigers will host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in a clash between ACC Championship Game contenders. Georgia Tech enters the game at 6-3 overall with the lead in the Coastal Division, and Clemson is 8-1 with a one-game deficit in the Atlantic Division.

The question is, who are the top NFL players in this clash between two of the ACC's best squads?

Georgia Tech vs. Clemson
DateTime (ET)TVLive Stream
Thursday, Nov. 147:30 p.m.ESPNWatch ESPN
via ESPN

Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech

Nov 2, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu (45) in action against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the third quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Position: DE/OLB

Class: Senior

2013 Season Statistics

26 TKL, 21 solo, 9.5 TFL, 6.5 SACK, 1 FF

One of the most pleasant surprises of the 2013 college football season has been the rise of the Yellow Jackets defense. It currently ranks No. 14 in points allowed per game, which is especially impressive considering it struggled mightily against Miami and BYU.

At the heart of that defensive uproar is pass-rusher Jeremiah Attaochu.

Attaochu has been a dominant defensive force with 9.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in nine games played. He's going to play a pivotal role in Georgia Tech's success against Clemson, as he applies pressure to Tajh Boyd on dropbacks.

If he's successful in doing so, the Yellow Jackets will have a chance to pull off an upset.

Attaochu isn't the most heralded prospect in this year's draft, but he's a 6'3", 242-pound pass-rusher. That alone suggests that he will be drafted, and it certainly doesn't hurt that he's capable of both getting after the quarterback and playing the run.

Boyd is going to have a long evening.

Tajh Boyd, Clemson Tigers

CLEMSON, SC - OCTOBER 19:  Tajh Boyd #10 of the Clemson Tigers during their game at Memorial Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Position: Quarterback

Class: RS Senior

2013 Season Statistics

159.6 RAT, 65.8% CMP, 2,620 YDS, 20 TD, 6 INT; 100 ATT, 194 YDS, 7 TD

Clemson is led by one of the best all-around quarterbacks in the country in redshirt senior Tajh Boyd. His NFL potential is unclear, but at the college ranks, he's an elite pocket passer and a dynamic runner who can extend plays with his legs and put up points with his arm.

Against the nation's No. 14 scoring defense, Boyd will be given a prime-time test.

Boyd currently has 2,620 yards and 20 touchdowns to six interceptions through the air on a completion percentage of 65.8. He's also rushed for seven touchdowns and continues to make every player around him look better.

Since posting a dud against Florida State, Boyd has 681 passing yards, six total touchdowns and two interceptions in two road games.

Boyd has a chance to make a statement against Georgia Tech and thus enter the first-to-second-round conversation. He's not regarded in the same manner as Teddy Bridgewater or Marcus Mariota, but he shouldn't be viewed as a non-factor.

Boyd's upside is undetermined, but he has every skill necessary to be a star.

David Sims, Georgia Tech

Oct 26, 2013; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets running back David Sims (20) scores a touchdown with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter as Virginia Cavaliers safety Rijo Walker (27) and safety Anthony Harris (8) and defensive end Max Vall
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Running Back

Class: RS Senior

2013 Season Statistics

114 ATT, 610 YDS, 9 TD; 1 REC, 59 YDS, 1 TD

Georgia Tech has a long history of being a dominant running team that utilizes a cast of different players to pound the rock. 2013 has been no different, as multiple players have lined up in the backfield to shoulder the load.

If any individual has flashed NFL upside, it's redshirt senior David Sims.

At 6'0" and 225 pounds, Sims uses every ounce of that frame to break down opposing defenses. He's lined up both at running back and as Georgia Tech's option-style fullback, working between the tackles and outside of the hashes.

That's all added up to an impressive year.

Sims has 114 carries for 610 yards and nine touchdowns through nine games in 2013. His hands haven't been a strength, and he hasn't seen a consistent number of carries, but Sims is a bruising runner who will find his way onto an NFL roster due to his prowess in goal-line sets.

Sims can do nothing but benefit from a potential breakout performance against Clemson.

Sammy Watkins, Clemson

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 28: Sammy Watkins #2 of the Clemson Tigers runs after making a catch during the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Memorial Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images)
Tyler Smith/Getty Images

Position: Wide Receiver

Class: Junior

2013 Season Statistics

66 REC, 982 YDS, 7 TD

Sammy Watkins is the best wide receiver in the 2014 NFL draft. He pulls in receptions like a future Pro Bowler, runs after the catch like a running back and has the combination of size and speed that suggests he can be the No. 1 option for a franchise.

Watkins has topped 100 receiving yards in six of nine games thus far, and he should have no trouble in reaching that plateau against Georgia Tech.

Marqise Lee rivals Watkins for the top spot among receivers, but the edge that the Clemson star possesses is mostly physical. He's 6'1" and 205 pounds, but the true advantage lies in the way he uses his body.

Watkins knows how to use his hands against cornerbacks and can break tackles in the open field.

That's where Watkins will discover his value against the Yellow Jackets. Boyd will find him on slant routes to fight off Georgia Tech's pass rush, and by game's end, the deep ball will open up.

Prepare to see Watkins put on a show as he always does.


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