With so much sizzle surrounding the Underclass of Juniors almost mandated to declare for the NFL DRAFT on a yearly basis (If they’re any good) it’s almost a concrete certain that there will be quite a few seasoned, underplayed, overlooked, underappreciated, and over evaluated Seniors that will crash the 1st round party maybe even early. On top of that you always have the Seniors who were damn good as Juniors, but for whatever personal choices of their own (None of our business) they chose to hang around for 1 more Weekend at Bernie’s before the long, grueling, yet financially awesome journey of being an NFL PRO. With that said let’s take a WAAAY TOO EARLY look at 5 of the Top Seniors in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
TOP 5 SENIOR PROSPECTS FROM THE
1. MARVIN WILSON / DT FLORIDA STATE: As i once stated in a previous article TOP 5 DT’S FOR 2021! Mr. Wilson is the cream of the crop at the Defensive Tackle position in the Nation not just the Atlantic Coast Conference. Had he chosen to jump ship a season early after his Junior year he would’ve been a lock for the mid-late 1st round, but deciding to return for his Senior season, and continuing to build on a marvelous start to what this young star has already revved up could definitely lead to Wilson crashing the TOP 10 maybe even TOP 5 Party. As any Offensive Coordinator will tell you thoroughly the demand for the 6’5 +, 300lb + Interior D Lineman that can hold up at nose tackle, shift outside to the edge to create pressure or just set the table for the linebackers is paramount in today’s NFL. Well Marvin Wilson can give you productive snaps assigned to all three plus giving you a consistent pocket collapse if consistently single matched. Strong hands, solid rip move, explosive through initial contact, and rarely gets reset at the line of scrimmage due to his tremendous lower body strength, and ability to quickly cut angles. Marvin is strictly a strong projection right now given the fact that in 3 seasons the production hasn’t jumped out in the stat sheet per say, but his impact down the entire line solo and taking on double teams is obvious from the moment you pop in tape of the Louisville game from 2019. A high motor, aggressive, skilled, pass rusher that willing plugs the run for all gaps. NFL COMPARISON : MARCUS STROUD
2. CARLOS BASHAM JR. / EDGE WAKE FOREST: Carlos is the younger brother of New York Jets Linebacker Tarrell Basham. 6’5 275 lbs, and moves effortlessly through the traffic within the pocket. Has an unusually advanced arsonal of pass rush moves, long athletic, and stays with his pass rush until the whistle blows (Extremely Important). Very decisive in his movements and not a lot of wasted motion. Excellent frame, and body type that fits the new Defensive End. Basham Jr. has been playing, and producing since he first stepped foot on campus in 2017, and has shown steady improvement throughout his first 3 years in Winston-Salem. This past Junior season in 2019 seems to be where Carlos finally figured it all out. In 13 games (Bowl Game Included) he amassed 57 tackles, 18 for loss, 10 sacks, and even forced 3 fumbles. Had he left a year early more than likely he would’ve been a mid-late 2nd round pick behind names such as Chase Young, A.J. Epenesa, and K’Lavon Chaisson, but Bashem wisely returned for his Senior season where he has a good chance to be one of the Top 3 Edge Rushers taken off the board in April. A smooth, natural pass rusher with a unique skill set that garners at least 2 hefty paydays at the next level. NFL COMPARISON : JASON PIERRE PAUL
3. CHAZZ SURRATT / OLB NORTH CAROLINA : Even in 2020 there’s still a lot to be said for guys who are just “Football Players”, and Chazz Surratt sure leaves you with a lot to like from a guy who has only been playing OLB for a year. Yes a guy who has only played a position for 1 year has managed to crack my Top 3. Surratt’s story is an interesting one, once a highly touted 5 Star recruit at the QB position from his home state of North Carolina Surratt started seven games in his redshirt freshman season in 2017 throwing for 1,342 yards, 8 touchdowns, and ran 5 touchdowns in as well. He was suspended for selling team issued sneakers before the start of the 2018 season, and in the only game he played that season versus Miami he suffered a wrist injury attempting a tackle on an interception run back which wound up costing him the rest of the season opting for surgery. When he returned to practice he had a cast on his right hand, and participated in Linebacker Drills where he showcased just how raw of an athlete he really was. At 6’3 230 lbs Surratt still needs to get “Linebacker Strong”, and fill out his smaller frame, but there aren’t many Linebackers in the Country that can run sideline to sideline, rush off the edge, and play as fast & decisive as Surratt. In only his first year at OLB he had 6.5 sacks, 115 tackles, & 15.0 tackles for loss earning him First Team ALL-ACC Honors. Not bad for a quarterback! Chazz Surratt is no sleeper at all, he is firmly set on NFL radars going into the 2021 College season and with another big step in the right direction he could find himself in the late 1st round or better. NFL COMPARISON : DEVIN BUSH
4. TRAVIS ETIENNE / RB CLEMSON : Speed upon Speed, combined with vision, balance, and the ability to take a simple counter sweep and turn it into a 75yd td. Etienne wrestled with the possibility of going pro down to almost the last second before deciding to return to school for his Senior season where barring any significant injuries, or unexplained poor play he should be the first back taken off the board in the upcoming Draft. Etienne followed up a steller 2018 which saw him reach paydirt a total of 26 times from scrimmage, by racking up another 23 tds from scrimmage in 2019. He also showed NFL Scouts that he can catch the ball out of the backfield well enough to possibly be and every down back at the next level. He has a ton of production at Clemson which is a positive and negative to most NFL Scouts who nowadays have a predetermined bias against running backs, and love to completely devalue their worth, but 62 touchdowns from scrimmage, and a career yards per carry of 7.8 in 3 seasons is bananas and impossible to ignore. BIG PLAY waiting to happen, homerun speed, a vertical zone run team’s greatest dream, tough, very instinctive runner who rarely takes major hits. NFL COMPARISON : CLINTON PORTIS
5. QUINCY ROCHE / DE MIAMI (FL) : Big time transfer in via Temple has some of the best pure hand work i have seen from a defensive end in a while. If you give him a running start off the edge you might as well forget about it. Swim moves, snatches, pull & rips, or he can just politely move both your hands from any point of contact and slide inside tackles for B-gap penetration. Dangerously light in the pants at 235 lbs for an every down D-end but his ability to rush the passer with an array of moves, agility, and pure speed/quickness could easily translate to him sliding back to play 3-4 outside at the next level. Roche will without a doubt get a ton of single looks this upcoming season playing opposite of future Top 10 pick Greg Rousseau so he should put up some impressive pass rush stats as far as Sacks, Hits, Hurriers, & Pressures which will only further grow his portfolio that began with a monster 2019 final season with the Temple Owls. 13.0 sacks & 19 tfl in just 12 games earning him American Athletic Conference DPOY and turning heads all the way to Miami FL, and now it’s time to see what Roche can do against tougher competition, and higher stakes. There’s always roster spots open for guys who can put the QB on his backside regardless of size deficiencies, and Roche’s name will certainly be called sometime in April NFL COMPARISON : ROBERT QUINN