2018 Devy Preview: ACC

Travis May

Welcome to the 2018 Devy Preview series! College football is just around the corner, dynasty leagues are gearing up for the NFL season, and it’s time to get excited for football again! If you haven’t ever tried a “Devy” league, that’s okay. The goal of this series is simply to help you find the NFL stars of the future. But! If you are a fellow Devy league fanatic like me, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy jotting down some names of current college football studs to watch for and target in future drafts!

We’ll be diving into all of the “Power Five” conferences and the best players in the “Group of Five” conferences over the next several weeks as the college football season approaches. If you’re unfamiliar with “Devy” formats the concept is simple. Developmental (Devy) leagues allow owners to roster current college football players before they ever declare for the NFL Draft. They’re a ton of fun! I highly recommend the format if you haven’t given it a try. Also, if you want to check out some of the top ranked devy players you can find those here!

The ACC isn’t just home to Clemson, Miami, and Florida State. Yes, those three schools set atop the ACC in terms of future NFL talent, but there is talent up and down this conference. Let’s dive in and see what future stars we should be excited to watch on Sundays here soon!


To the surprise of absolutely no one, Clemson is stacked yet again for the 2018 season. However, somewhat like 2017 Alabama, there may be a quarterback controversy at some point. Kelly Bryant did a great job for the Tigers last year, but it was mainly due to his dual-threat ability, not his arm. Yes, he posted a good completion percentage, but Bryant lacks the ability to throw his receivers open. Trevor Lawrence is a true freshman quarterback prodigy who looks to be the future of an NFL franchise at age 18. If Bryant struggles early and Clemson loses a game or two, expect to see some of Lawrence.

Clemson has a pair of solid running backs in Travis Etienne in Tavien Feaster. Etienne was undoubtedly the more explosive playmaker on the ground for the Tigers in 2017, but don’t forget about Feaster. Feaster was one of the best running backs in the nation coming into college and will still have a healthy role until he inevitably goes pro (most likely an early day three prospect when he does go). Etienne is the player to watch though. His unbelievable raw speed is eye-popping. Even though he’s only played one season, it looks like his decisive one-cut ability and athleticism will likely carry him to an early draft selection in 2020. He’s already a top-30 devy prospect in the eyes of almost everyone heading into year two.

Wide Receiver University is yet again not lacking for playmakers on the outside. Sophomore Tee Higgins looks to take his next step as the prohibitive favorite to lead the Tigers in receiving yards and touchdowns. This former five-star wide receiver only caught 17 balls one year ago, but more than 100 receptions just left the team for the NFL via Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud. Hunter Renfrow is also still with the team in what seems like his 20th season there. If he puts together another solid showing, he should be a sneaky slot value option in the NFL. Amari Rodgers looks to be the other outside wide receiver (at least early on) for Clemson. The undersized sophomore failed to find the end zone in 2017, but could take off if he continues his route tree development.

Other Notables: Freshman wide receivers Justyn Ross and Derion Kendrick (high school quarterback) will be competing for the fourth wide receiver role. Both were top recruits, but Justyn Ross has already been making a lot of noise throughout the summer. He could eventually be the team’s second option to pair with Tee Higgins.


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Miami also has a pair of talented quarterbacks who could potentially make an NFL roster one day. Malik Rosier is definitely getting the nod early on for the U, but his inaccuracy and inconsistency in decision-making may inevitably give way to N’Kosi Perry. Perry was a top 200 recruit in the nation just one year ago so the pressure will be on Rosier to perform. Both project to be dual-threat options who will need some time to develop in the NFL.

When Mark Walton went down with an injury early in 2017 the Hurricanes desperately needed a running back to step up. Travis Homer did exactly that. He’s a little undersized at 5’11”, 195, but don’t let that deceive you. He packs a punch with NFL level quickness and play strength (for his size). Homer will definitely lead the Miami backfield in 2018 on his way to a likely 2019 NFL Draft selection. Lorenzo Lingard, a crazy athletic track athlete, looks to be waiting in the wings as well. He needs to get rid of his ridiculous high-stepping running form, but Lingard boasts elite top-end speed and feature back size. He will be the Miami back of the future.

Braxton Berrios and Chris Herndon accounted for nearly all of the 2017 receiving offense for the Hurricanes, but they’re gone. Ahmmon Richards looks to bounce back from his midseason injury and completely own the targets for Miami this season. Richards showed up in 2016 and broke Michael Irvin’s record for freshman receiving yards at Miami (stood for 31 years). His route running and separation capabilities could get him drafted early in 2019. He should be considered a top-20 devy prospect by all.

Other Notables: One of Lawrence Cager, Jeff Thomas, or true freshman Mark Pope need to show up as the team’s WR2 option. Pope is the likely heir the Richards’ WR1 throne. Brevin Jordan was already one of the nation’s top true freshman tight ends, but he’ll likely have a huge role early thanks to an injury to fellow tight end Michael Irvin II (out for four months).

Florida State

Deondre Francois isn’t the first college quarterback to have his career momentum derailed by an injury. He has his work cut out for him with a new coach, but if he can improve his ball placement and pocket presence over the next two seasons he could land on an NFL roster.

The Florida State running backs are where the real excitement lies in the ACC. Cam Akers may just be the next Saquon Barkley when it’s all said and done. Khalan Laborn, Amir Rasul, and Jacques Patrick are all blue blood recruits with elite athleticism and would start for most SEC teams. There’s actually a chance that all four find their way to the NFL one day. However, Cam Akers is the only “sure thing” type player on this team. With a healthy Francois leading the offense, Akers should absolutely explode and further solidify his inevitable top overall devy fantasy football prospect status.

Nyqwan Murray is hardly a “sure thing” at wide receiver, but he is the only Seminole with significant career receiving production. Murray may only project as an above average athlete at slot receiver, but with even the slightest increase in production in 2018 he’ll almost be a lock for mid-round draft consideration.

Other Notables: Keith Gavin is a huge person attempting to play wide receiver who can win at the catch point. DJ Matthews looks like a slot receiver, but provides much greater explosion. He could grow into the team’s best receiver. Tamorrian Terry is a slightly taller, slimmer version of Gavin that plays the deep game well. He’ll need to work his way up the target totem pole, but he may possess the sexiest upside of the bunch.


Jawon Pass may never be able to fill the remarkable shoes of Lamar Jackson, but he certainly has the offensive weapons to hit the ground running. The Louisville wide receiver room may be one of the best in the country. The running backs are definitely underrated. Plus Pass has prototypical size, arm strength (well above average in high school testing), and runs somewhere in the 4.7 range in the forty. Pass could be a lot of fun in his own way.

Both Colin Wilson and Dae Williams are coming off of injuries, but either one could blow up for the Cardinals. Both players boast feature back size (at least 6’1”, 220 pounds), solid pad level, balance through contact, and enough wiggle to win in space. However, Colin Wilson is likely the name to know for devy and future rookie drafts. Wilson was actually a top-15 running back coming into college. He offers the best blend of size, speed, agility, and vision of a potential NFL star. If he stays healthy, he may be one of the fastest rising NFL prospects in the country.

Jaylen Smith was a highly regarded draft eligible wide receiver already this past season, but decided to stay one more year. He broke out at an early age, and will still be young when he enters the NFL Draft in 2019. Smith is already a near lock for mid-round consideration. If he succeeds with Pass throwing to him it will only improve his stock. Dez Fitzpatrick could end up being even better than Smith. In his first collegiate action last season, he caught 45 balls for 699 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s got great size, speed, and incredible play strength at the line and at catch point. He could actually end up leading the Cardinals in receiving this year. Lastly, Seth Dawkins is a beast in his own way too. He’s not afraid to flatten defensive backs with a stiff arm when needed. All three wide receivers should go pro.

North Carolina State

Ryan Finley is one of the best quarterbacks in the country who no one really gives any credit. He’s an incredibly accurate, intelligent, and surprisingly athletic quarterback and an absolute field general. The NC State offense has an intense amount of wrinkles to it, yet Finley runs it with ease. The only legitimate knock on him may be his deep passing ability, and perhaps his red zone game. That shows up in his touchdown percentage (3.5% in 2017). Finley will be a bit older as rookie in 2019, but he’s smart enough to earn his way into starting consideration at some point in the NFL.

Reggie Gallaspy is the cagey old senior veteran for NC State at running back, but he’ll likely go undrafted and have to battle for a roster spot in 2019. True freshman Ricky Person is the possible future star to watch for this year and beyond. NC State may have a couple of other somewhat interesting backups, but Person is 6’1”, 210 pounds as a true freshman and he can catch passes. There are slight concerns with his top speed, but Person showed elite vision and balance for a high school running back. Expect to hear his name early and often in 2018 and in NFL Draft conversations shortly thereafter. Consider him a top-75 devy prospect.

Kelvin Harmon is one of the best wide receivers in college football and there’s no debating that. At 6’3”, 213 pounds Harmon dominates at the catch point, but he’s flexible enough to win out of his first break too. He needs to add some intricacy to his route tree, but Harmon is a lock as a top-ten devy prospect. He could sneak into the back end of round one in the 2019 NFL Draft after he explodes this season. Over 100 receptions just left for the NFL Draft this season for NC State. It’s time for him to shine. Jokobi Meyers is another solid wide receiver for the Wolfpack with decent size, but his athleticism won’t likely earn him anything more than day three consideration by the time he enters the draft.

Virginia Tech

Josh Jackson surprised a lot of people in 2017 and led Virginia Tech to a surprisingly successful overall campaign just a year ago. His East Carolina game had everyone thinking he could be the greatest Virginia Tech quarterback (outside of Michael Vick), but that only lasted for a moment. Given his less than ideal size, Jackson is going to have to improve his mechanics and make better use of his mobility to earn significant draft capital.

Sean Savoy was incredibly productive as a freshman for Virginia Tech. He projects to be a shifty slot wide receiver. The real name to know is likely Damon Hazelton who has apparently been generating some buzz this summer. The 6’2”, 215-pound former Ball State wide receiver can apparently line up all over the field and could lead the team in targets. If he does, expect some draft capital to follow.

Boston College

AJ Dillon had the most unique freshman season for a running back in recent memory. Even though he wasn’t fully given the reigns as the feature back for Boston College until week five, Dillon still managed nearly 1,600 yards on the ground and 14 touchdowns. However, despite logging 300 carries, he never saw one reception the entire year. That doesn’t bode well for his future feature potential, but Dillon’s size (6’0”, 240 pounds) and freak athleticism (around a 4.5 forty and 40-inch vert) will make him a day two ground-and-pound monster by 2020.

Kobay White looks a little funny playing receiver, but he got the job done as a freshman. White is built more like a running back, but definitely has more moves than his frame might lead you to believe. He also accounted for more than 15% of the Boston College receiving offense in his first year of action and he’s just scratching the surface of his talent.

Tommy Sweeney essentially functioned as the lead wide receiver for Boston College, despite being a huge 6’5” blocking tight end. That versatility should probably land him inside round five of the 2019 NFL Draft. If he surprises at the Combine, he may go a bit higher.


Abdul Adams looked like he could open up the 2017 season as the starting running back for Oklahoma, but was quickly tossed aside after a few early mistakes for the more talented Rodney Anderson (who we’ll talk about in the BIG 12 preview). He’ll have to miss the entire 2018 season, but he still has the speed and athleticism to be considered possibly the best devy prospect on this Syracuse roster. He’s definitely not a top 100 devy player, but he’s a name to keep in your back pocket.

The Syracuse offense lost somewhere around 200 receptions and 2,000 receiving yards to graduating seniors this past season. Devin Butler and Ravian Pierce are the only two returning players who logged more than 18 receptions. Butler is a lean 6’3” weapon who wins underneath quite a bit, but can push vertically when called upon. The opportunity is there, but he’ll need to annihilate statistically for two straight seasons to earn early day three consideration. Ravian Pierce is a savvy, strong tight end who projects to play more of a move and big slot tight end role if he sticks in the NFL. Both players could double their 2017 production given the available targets this season.


Daniel Jones need to impress, but he regressed in 2017. He shows some of the best flashes in college football with his surprising pocket presence at times. However, his decision making and lack of deep accuracy are going to lead to him earning a late round draft grade.

Brittain Brown should be receiving a lot more hype. In any other year, a freshman logging 700 yards and seven touchdowns would have been considered a great start to a collegiate career. Sadly, there were too many other future 2020 NFL Draft picks who decided to crush it as true freshman. Don’t forget about Brown. He’s in a position to easily eclipse 1,000 yards rushing in 2018 and could add 30 receptions to go along with that. If he continues to grow he could end up in the same conversation with some of the other elite presumed 2020 NFL Draft rookie running back prospects.

Wake Forest

Greg Dortch and Scotty Washington are two of the most different wide receiver prospects in the country, but both should be getting way more attention right now. Greg Dortch has the perfect combination of initial burst, smooth transitions through his routes, and toughness that you could want. He missed some games with a pretty severe internal injury last season, but should dominate targets again in 2018. Scotty Washington is a 6’5”, 225-pound beast who can contort his body to finish and force his way open anywhere on the field. He’ll get compared to Auden Tate all day if he enters the draft next spring.

North Carolina

Michael Carter is a former four-star recruit out of Florida who was always going to be a bit undersized. However, he showed a knack for finding the end zone and creating big plays in crucial moments. He probably stays four years but could offer something similar to Devonta Freeman if all goes well one day.

Anthony Ratliff-Williams is a big-play threat that averaged 18 yards per reception in 2017. He needs to work on his play strength, but he has all the moves necessary to get open underneath too. If he has a big 2018 campaign, his name will continue to rise on draft boards.


Olamide Zaccheaus is one of the most exciting players in the ACC to watch play the game of football. He’s a fun RB/WR hybrid who can line up just about anywhere on the field and make plays in space. He just set the single-season record for receptions at Virginia. Imagine a more electric version of De’Anthony Thomas or Dexter McCluster. If the right offense drafts him, Zaccheaus could be a steal.

Georgia Tech

KirVonte Benson is sadly the only remotely interesting Georgia Tech player for future NFL purposes. He’s logged a couple great collegiate games, most notably for dropping 124 yards and 129 yards on Tennessee and Clemson last season. The Georgia Tech triple-option offense is so far removed from what any NFL team runs though, it may be difficult for Benson to stick.


It’s sad when the only remotely interesting future NFL prospect on the team hasn’t even played a snap for them yet. Mychale Salahuddin is one of the most elusive backs in the 2018 freshman class. He truly is a lot of fun to watch. If he adds some weight, but retains his elusiveness, Salahuddin will earn Pittsburgh’s feature role by the end of his sophomore year and generate some real day two draft day buzz.