When it comes to NFL talent, there’s more than just the big names that come from Clemson. In fact, both Miami and NC State have had more players drafted to the NFL over the last two years than Clemson. As a whole, the ACC has 86 first round draft picks in the last 15 years, which is second among Power Five conferences over that span. This week’s 6-Pack focuses on who the top sleepers in the ACC are entering the 2019 seasons. Be sure to get these guys on your radar!
I hope that this column has become a staple for you each week, but just in case you are new, 6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, College Football or NFL Draft.
Let’s crack this thing open
Emezie was “that other guy” making plays for the Wolfpack offense last season that featured Kelvin Harmon and Jakobi Meyers catching passes from Ryan Finley. Despite being the third option, Emezie still managed to haul in 53 receptions for 616 yards and five touchdowns as a true sophomore.
Pop on the tape and you will see an intriguing talent whose natural ball skills, hands and elite competitive demeanor jump off the screen. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Emezie embraces the physical components of the position and often imposes his will as a route runner, blocker, runner and at the catch point. His flashes are really exciting and I’m curious to see how he performs as the go-to guy in NC State’s offense.
Honored with the Philip Rivers Freshman of the Year award in 2017 and the recipient of the Mike Hardy Award which is given to the Wolfpack player who best exhibits a winning attitude, Emezie has exceptional football character and leadership traits that the NFL craves in the players it invests in.
When it comes to Nasirildeen, turn on the tape and you will see tantalizing tools. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Nasirildeen features great length and an exciting frame to grow into. His stocky build is noticeable from the waist down and it’s apparent that he isn’t anywhere near maxed out in the upper half. He’s an explosive and fluid mover in all directions, rounding out his highly appealing physical skill set.
After starting his FSU career at safety, Nasirildeen is set to transition to linebacker in 2019 as a true junior. While that shift comes with a learning curve and acclimation period, Nasirildeen has the raw talent to make it happen. The flashes of closing speed, ability to win in space, ball skills and physicality are all present and him moving to the second level should help accentuate his talent and lead to more production. With that said, he was the Noles leading tackler with 91 in 2018.
His status is predicated on this transition, but Nasirldeen is exactly the type of high motor, urgent, rangy and long defender the NFL covets on the second level as a matchup neutralizer.
Snowden is a rare dude. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy do the things he does at his size. A true junior listed at 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds, Snowden plays a hybrid role for the Cavs’ defense that features plenty of reps where he plays off-ball and wins in space. At first glance, Snowden looks like an EDGE rusher that needs to fill into his frame. And while he has some appeal - with plenty of development needed - as a pass rusher, he may actually be able to play in a stand up role and find success.
Generally speaking, Snowden does well to use his length. Whether that is winning with first contact and fitting his hands to keep opponents away from his frame or extending his limbs to clog passing lanes, Snowden has vines for arms and he knows how to use them. His tackle radius is massive and he makes some impressive finishes outside his frame.
As a true sophomore, Snowden had 11 pass breakups to go with 62 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. There will be plenty of debate on “what to do with him” but it’s not hard to watch his tape and realize there is an exciting skill set present worth cultivating. His ceiling is very high.
A transfer from Louisburg College in 2017, Murchison redshirted the year NC State saw its entire starting defensive line get drafted (Bradley Chubb, BJ Hill, Justin Jones and Kentavius Street). Murchison took over as a starter in 2018, earning the Carey Brewbaker Award that is given to the Wolfpack Defensive Lineman of the Year and the Alpha Rising Award that is presented to NC State’s overall most improved player.
Starting all 13 games at defensive tackle for the Wolfpack in 2018, the 6-foot-3, 291-pound junior registered 33 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, four sacks, two pass breakups and intercepted a pass. In an NFL that is placing a premium on interior penetration, Murchison has the juice, play strength, motor and flashes of technique needed to make a name for himself. He’s one of my favorite nation-wide sleepers entering 2019.
After spending nearly four seasons at Virginia Tech, Hill isn’t a new name to those that follow the ACC closely. Dismissed from the Hokies team following the disappointing loss to Old Dominion, Hill is now in Miami and has a prime opportunity to be an impact player.
Hill will have to answer plenty of questions about what happened that led to getting kicked off the team, but there is no denying his upside as an NFL pass rusher. His ability to explode out of his stance and tightly corner the outside edge track on account of his flexibility is a plus trait. I like his overall repertoire of moves and how hard he battles to disengage. He does have room to grow as a run defender, technique and play strength but he has the juice and flexibility needed to affect quarterbacks.
Hill’s 2018 season was off to a great start, racking up 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in just three games before his dismissal. I’m expecting a big year for Hill in Miami.
If you can stomach watching Tyree Jackson's college tape, Osborn was that dude making explosive plays for him. A graduate transfer to Miami as of January, Osborn has quickly emerged as a leader for the Hurricanes and represented the University at the ACC Kickoff event in Charlotte along with senior linebacker Shaq Quarterman.
I like so much about Osborn’s game, but in particular his ability to make plays at all levels of the field and his fearless competitive nature. Whether it’s uncovering quickly from the slot and competing for yards post-catch or challenging a defense vertically, Osborn has the skill set to do so. He’s very natural in terms of his hands and ball skills which have been regularly tested given the erratic quarterback play he has played with. He has excellent ball tracking skills and makes outstanding adjustments. Osborn is gifted with the ball in his hands and he showcases excellent vision and decisiveness as a runner.
I am excited to see Osborn compete against ACC competition, hopefully with better quarterback play to see what kind of production he can claim. Definitely get him on your 2020 radar.