ACC Has 15 of First 100 Selections in 2012 NFL Draft

April 29, 2012

The Atlantic Coast Conference had 15 of the first 100 players chosen and 31 overall selections in the three days of 2012 NFL Draft, which concluded Saturday at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

            Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly (Carolina Panthers), North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples (New York Jets) and Virginia Tech running back David Wilson (New York Giants) were all chosen in the first round of the Draft.

            In all, the ACC had 15 of the first 100 players taken, and tied with the PAC-12 Conference for the second-highest total among all conferences in the top 100, behind only the Southeastern Conference (17).

            The SEC led all conferences in overall selections with 42 players chosen in the draft, followed by the Big Ten with 41 and the ACC with 31.

The PAC-12 was fourth with 29 players taken, followed by the Big 12 Conference (24) and the Big East and Mountain West Conferences each with 12.

            Conference affiliation was determined in which conference the schools played during the 2011 college football season.

            The 31 draftees marked the 8th consecutive year the ACC has had 30 or more (actually 31 or more) players chosen in the NFL Draft, a current streak only matched or exceeded by the SEC.

Miami led all ACC schools with six players selected, followed by NC State with five, and Clemson, Florida State and Wake Forest with four each. Virginia Tech had three players taken, followed by North Carolina with two and Boston College, Georgia Tech and Virginia with one apiece.

In addition to the 31 current players selected in the draft, Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson, the 2009 ACC Rookie of the Year, who played his first three seasons at NC State before graduating, was selected in the third round and 75th overall by the Seattle Seahawks.

Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill was selected on the second round of the draft as the 43rd overall pick by the New York Jets, continuing a streak of ACC wide receivers who have been selected in the first or second round of the NFL Draft every year since 2005, a total of eight consecutive drafts.

Kuechly, the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year and perhaps the most honored defensive player in league history, was the first ACC player chosen;  selected 9th overall by the Carolina Panthers. Kuechly was honored in 2011 as the National Defensive Player of the Year, winning the FWAA's  Nagurski Award, the prestigious Lombardi Award and the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Award. He was also named the nation's top linebacker as winner of the Butkus Award.

            Kuechly, from Cincinnati, Ohio, led the nation in tackles as a sophomore and junior and finished 2nd nationally in tackles per game as a true freshman. He ended his career as the ACC's all-time leading tackler and set league and NCAA records for most tackles per game in a career and season.

            He became the fifth Boston College player chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft in the last five years, joining former Eagles Anthony Castonzo (2011), B.J. Raji (2010), Matt Ryan (2008) and Gosder Cherilus (2008). He is also the 19th Boston College player selected in the first round by the NFL Draft

            North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples was the second ACC player taken, being chosen 16th overall by the New York Jets. The ACC was one of only three leagues the SEC with 8 and the PAC-12 (4), to have more than one player chosen among the first 16 selections.

            This year marked the second straight draft a defensive end from UNC has been selected on the first round of the Draft. North Carolina's Robert Quinn was taken 14th overall in the 2011 Draft by the St. Louis Rams. Coples also becomes the 20th UNC player to be chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft, including four selections in the last five Drafts as Coples joined Quinn (2011), WR Hakeem Nicks (2009) and DT Kentwan Balmer (2008) as opening-round selections.

A two-time first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer, Coples played both end and tackle at UNC.  A native of Kinston, N.C., Coples finished his four-year career with 40.5 tackles for losses and 24 sacks. 

            Virginia Tech's David Wilson, who led the conference in rushing with 1,709 yards and was named the ACC Offensive and Overall Player of the Year, was the final ACC player selected on Day One of the NFL Draft. Wilson was also the last player chosen on the first day of the Draft, being tabbed 32nd overall by the New York Giants/

            Wilson, a native of Danville, Va., compiled the third-highest single-season rushing total rushing total in league history with 1,709 rushing yards. He was also a dangerous kickoff returner, having returned two for touchdowns as a sophomore. He finished the 2011 season ranked eighth nationally in all-purpose yardage and rushing yards per game.

            He became Virginia Tech's eighth first-round selection in the NFL Draft and its second running back chosen in the first two rounds of the Draft in two years. Ryan Williams of Tech was tabbed 38th overall in the second round of the 2011 Draft. He is also the second running back from Tech to be drafted on the first round, joining Kevin Jones, who was tabbed as the 30th overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions.

            Both Kuechly and Wilson were early entries into this year's NFL Draft, each opting for the NFL with a year of eligibility remaining. In all, the ACC had 10 early entries selected in this year's draft.

            Kuechly was the first linebacker selected in the Draft, while Coples was the first defensive end chosen. Wilson was the second running back selected behind Boise State's Doug Martin, who was tabbed just one pick earlier (31) by the Tampa Bay Bucs.

            A total of 19 NFL teams selected ACC players, Three drafted a trio of ACC athletes each: the New York Giants (David Wilson, Virginia Tech; Jayron Hosley, Virginia Tech; and Markus Kuhn, NC State); the New York Jets (Quinton Coples, North Carolina; Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech; Josh Bush,Wake Forest); and the Buffalo Bills (T.J. Graham, NC State; Nigel Bradham and Zebrie Sanders, Florida State).

            Six other teams selected two ACC players each: the Dallas Cowboys (Kyle Wilber, Wake Forest; Danny Coale, Virginia Tech); Green Bay Packers (Terrell Manning, NC State; Andrew Datko, Florida State), Jacksonville Jaguars (Andre Branch, Clemson; Mike Harris, Florida State); Miami Dolphins (Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller, Miami); the San Francisco 49'ers (Joe Looney, Wake Forest; Cam Johnson, Virginia) and Tennessee Titans (Zach Brown, North Carolina; Coty Sensabaugh, Clemson).

Ten NFL teams selected one ACC player: the Baltimore Ravens (Tommy Streeter, Miami); Carolina Panthers (Kuechly, Boston College); Cincinnati Bengals (Brandon Thompson, Clemson); Cleveland Browns (Travis Benjamin, Miami); Indianapolis Colts (Dwayne Allen, Clemson); Minnesota Vikings (Audie Cole); Philadelphia Eagles(Brandon Washington, Miami); Pittsburgh Steelers (Sean Spence, Miami); St. Louis  Rams (Chris Givens, Wake Forest); and Seattle Seahawks (J.R. Sweezy, NC State).