ACC Defenders Shine, QBs Struggle In Senior Bowl
By Zack Shelby
The Atlantic Coast Conference was well represented on defense and at quarterback Jan. 25 at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., as part of the North squad that lost 20-10 to the South.
ACC standouts were primarily on defense as Florida State linebackers Christian Jones and Telvin Smith combined for 11 tackles. Safety and former Seminoles teammate Terrence Brooks contributed two tackles. North Carolina defensive end Kareem Martin added four tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a loss.
However, while ACC defenders held their own, its three heralded quarterbacks struggled mightily behind an offensive line that was routinely overmatched by the South's front. Miami's Stephen Morris completed 10 of 18 passes for 89 yards and two interceptions. Clemson's Tajh Body completed less than half of attempts for just 31 yards, adding eight yards on the ground on two attempts. Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas completed four of five passes, but took five sacks.
Former Wake Forest receiver Michael Campanaro caught two passes for 11 yards and returned three punts for 24 yards, but explosive plays were far and few between for the North. The offense was destined for failure behind an offensive line that seemed to know it was in over its collective heads.
“Just talking to the linemen, they said these guys are kind of quick coming off the ball," Boyd said, according to the Associated Press. "You've got to go out there and try to help those guys out."
The AP quoted Thomas as saying "I don't think I had much time to do anything with it (the ball)."
Given the fact that all three quarterbacks struggled, it may be difficult to draw any solid conclusions about their possible worth to NFL teams when draft time rolls around in early May. If only one or two quarterbacks struggled, maybe it would be easier to criticize their play, but it was clear none of them had much reason to trust the offensive line they stood behind. Also, no one was really in long enough to establish much of a rhythm. Nevertheless, nothing about any of the quarterbacks' performances is going to make any NFL team think any of them are the next Russell Wilson.
Martin is projected to be drafted in the third or fourth round by NFL Draft Scout and didn't do anything to hurt his stock at the Senior Bowl. The same could be said for the trio of FSU defenders. Like Martin, Jones and Brooks are projected to go in the third or fourth round by NFL Draft Scout. The site slates Smith toward the end of the second round.
NFL Draft Scout projects Boyd to be drafted in the fifth round, while Morris and Thomas are seen as late-round selections or undrafted free agents. While the Senior Bowl didn't do any of the ACC signal callers much good, they will likely all get some sort of shot to impress an NFL coaching staff and latch on to an opening day roster in 2014.