The Atlantic Coast Conference had four athletes selected among the first 14 players chosen in the 2014 NFL Draft for the first time since 2006, and in all, five ACC players were chosen in the first round Thursday night.
The ACC also had two Top 10 selections for the first time since the 2008 NFL Draft as Clemson WR Sammy Watkins was selected fourth by the buffalo bills and North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron was taken 10th by the Detroit Lions. They were the first pair of Top 10 selections for the ACC since Chris Long of Virginia was the second overall pick by the St. Louis Rams and Boston College’s Matt Ryan was the third overall selection by the Atlanta Falcons in 2008.
Combined with six first-round selections in the 2013 Draft, the ACC has now had 11 first round draft picks in the last two years and a total of 56 first-round picks in the last decade second most against all conferences.
Pitt Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald then was taken 13th by the St. Louis Rams and Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller was tabbed 14th by the Chicago Bears, giving ACC had four players taken among the top 14 picks for the first time since the Conference’s record-setting 2006 Draft when the ACC had four Top 10 picks and seven players tabbed in the Top 15 and the record 12 first round picks.
When Clemson’s Watkins was selected fourth overall on the first round, the Tigers became the first school in ACC history to have wide receivers taken in the first round of the NFL Draft in back-to-back seasons, Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins was drafted 27th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. Clemson is also the first team in the nation since Ohio State in 2006 and 2007, to have had a wide receiver taken in the first round of the draft in consecutive years
Watkins tied Florida State’s Peter Warrick (2000) and Maryland’s Gary Collins (1962) as the second-highest drafted wide receivers in ACC history. Georgia Tech’s Calvin Johnson was the second overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.
Ebron becomes the first tight end taken in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft since Maryland’s Vernon Davis was taken sixth in the 2006 Draft. Davis is the highest drafted tight end in ACC history. Ebron becomes the second-highest drafted tight end in ACC history. Ebron is the 23rd overall first-round draft pick in North Carolina history and the seventh in the last seven years.
When Aaron Donald was taken 13th, he became the highest drafted Panther since WR Larry Fitzgerald was chosen third overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. This past year, Donald became only the second player in college football history to win the Outland Trophy, the Nagurski Trophy, the Lombardi Award and the Bednarik Award in the same year.
Fuller becomes the highest-drafted Virginia Tech player since 2004 when cornerback DeAngelo Hall was selected eighth overall by the Atlanta Falcons. The third of four brothers to play for the Hokies, his younger brother Kendall, also a cornerback, was the ACC’s 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year.
When Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin was taken with the 28th pick by the Carolina Panthers joining Clemson’s Sammy Watkins in the first round, it gave the ACC two first-round wide receivers for only the second time in its history. The ACC had two wideouts taken in the first round of the 2009 draft when Maryland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey (7th, Oakland Raiders) and North Carolina’s Hakeem Nicks (29th, New York Giants) , were selected.
With the wide receiver selections, the ACC has now had 12 wideouts chosen in the first or second round of the draft since 2006.
ACC First Round Selections
Rd No. Name, School Pos. Team
1 4 Sammy Watkins, Clemson WR buffalo bills
1 10 Eric Ebron, North Carolina TE Detroit Lions
1 13 Aaron Donald, Pitt DT St. Louis Rams
1 14 Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech CB Chicago Bears
1 28 Kelvin Benjamin WR Florida State