ACC Has Two of First 16 Selections in 2012 NFL Draft
April 27, 2012
The Atlantic Coast Conference had two of the first 16 players chosen and three overall selections in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft Thursday Night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Boston College linebacker Luke 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 ninth 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 becomes 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.
It marked the second straight year 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 becomes 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.
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.
The 2012 NFL Draft continues today with the second and third round selections.