Well, here we go. It’s time to start ranking the best players in the ACC for the 2022 season.
As usual, we hope you enjoy the rankings.
Previous and Upcoming Rankings
1) Trenton Simpson, Clemson
If you can somehow get past Clemson’s elite front 4, arguably the ACC’s best linebacker will be waiting for you in Trenton Simpson. Last season Simpson had 78 tackles with 12 tackles for loss and 6 sacks. With James Skalski’s departure, Simpson is now the unquestioned leader of the Tiger’s linebacking crew.
NFLDraftBuzz grades him as the 4th best linebacker NFL prospect in the country, and he has the potential to be a first-round NFL pick.
2) Drake Thomas, NC State
Many college football observers think Clemson has the best defensive line in the country. When it comes to linebackers many folks around college football think NC State might have the best linebacking unit in the nation or at least in the conversation with the likes of Alabama.
All-ACC first-teamer Drake Thomas leads the way for NC State along with All-ACC and possibly All-America teammates Payton Wilson and Isaiah Moore. Thomas is a rangy player that had 100 tackles last year.
3) Mikel Jones, Syracuse
Mikel Jones finished last season with 110 tackles. That was second in the ACC. He did lead the ACC with 60 solo tackles.
Syracuse was thrilled to have the All-ACC player come back for another season. He’s gone from making some freshman All-America teams to honorable mention All-ACC to All-ACC player. He keeps improving, and another step will land him on an NFL roster next year.
4) Payton Wilson, NC State
Payton Wilson saw an injury to his shoulder last season derailed his year. If he can return to his previous form he is an absolute tackling machine. In 2020 he led the ACC with nearly 11 tackles per game.
Wilson is a good athlete with excellent instincts and he’s been all over the pre-season All-ACC lists. It’s all about Wilson’s health. If he’s fully healthy, he’s one of the best in the ACC.
5) Nick Jackson, Virginia
Who was the ACC’s leading tackler in 2021? It was Nick Jackson of Virginia with 117. Jackson was of the bright spots for a defense that struggled through most of the year.
His productivity at the position is off the charts and is a strong run stopper. His play recognition could improve, and if he does that he could make himself a mid-round NFL draft prospect.