Yesterday I discussed the offense and today I'll discuss the defensive players on the 2010 The Phil Steele All-ACC Team.
It's difficult for any national writer to come up with 4-deep conference teams. I give writers a lot of leeway if they are willing to go beyond the customary first team that most national magazines do. I only ask that their methods remain consistent throughout. If they want to pick the guys who will have the most production, that's fine. It's also fine to pick the best players, regardless of numerical production. I don't, however, like when they mix the two. Stay consistent throughout, please. Let's get to it...
Now onto the defensive side. I have a bone to pick here as well. Steele ranks 2 DE, 2 DT, 4 LB, 2 CB, and 2 safeties. That doesn't seem like the best way to do it. A typical defense plays 2 ends, 2 tackles, 3 linebackers, and 4 DBs. A 3-4 defense plays 3 linemen and 4 backers, but there's only one 3-4 defense in the ACC (Georgia Tech). So why rank 4 linebackers? If anything, with teams playing more receivers than ever before, it would make sense to rank 5 defensive backs. Or since teams rotate defensive linemen to keep them fresh, perhaps ranking 5 defensive linemen would be more appropriate. Either would be better than 4 backers. Ranking 4 linebackers per All-ACC team (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th team) means that 16 of the conference's 37 starting linebackers receive some sort of recognition. That hardly seems appropriate. Steele recognizes 34% of the conference's starting defensive linemen, and 34% of the starting defensive backs, but 43% of the linebackers. Steele has put over 3/4 of returning starters at the linebacker position on one of the 4 all-conference teams. With that said, let's get to the breakdown.
This one is difficult to mess up. Bailey and Quinn are the conference's top defensive players and are considered top-10 NFL choices. Then, however, he messes up. Matt Conrath is a defensive tackle and Steele notes that. He was a defensive end last year, but he's a tackle now. Why then, is he taking up a spot at end? This just seems like common sense. I don't have any issue with the rest of the selections at end. Any of them could reasonably be projected to out-perform any of the others.
I can't disagree with this list too much. Austin is by far the best in the conference and is the top rated DT in the coming draft. But if (according to Steele), Conrath is good enough to be the 3rd DE behind two likely All-Americans (above), and he's moving inside, shouldn't he be listed at the appropriate position? Seems to me Conrath should be 1st team with Austin, instead of Clemson's Jarvis Jenkins. I do think Steele goes overboard with Florida State's McDaniel and especially Miami's Marcus Forston. Both are former 5-star players who as of yet have done nothing to warrant all-conference consideration. Forston in particular didn't play but a few snaps last year (injury/ effort) and isn't even projected to start this year, as Micanor Regis and Curtis Porter are listed over him. McDaniel had a promising first year, but Forston has had two years in the system and isn't starting. Perhaps it is time to look past his recruiting ranking. 4th teamer Brandon Thompson is a good player who I would have on the 2nd team.
There's a group of three backers in the ACC who are above the rest in my mind. Kuechly, Carter, and Wujciak are excellent. Sturdivant, to me, is not in that group. The second team is a mess. It would take a tremendous leap of faith to think that FSU's Kendal Smith will be one of the best 8 backers in the conference. Mark Herzlich is coming off missing a year due to cancer. He's going to be one of the best? Maybe Phil knows something that I do not. McCarthy and Greer are good choices. I don't have any issued with his third or fourth team selections. Again, it's tough to do a 4-deep.
Cornerback & Safety
I think Steele nailed this one. Not only did he probably get the best cornerbacks, but I think they are in the correct order. There are a few quibbles with the 3rd or 4th team safeties, but not many. I'm impressed.
After seeing all the teams, what are your thoughts? FSU has fewer players on the lists than BC or Clemson. Does that make you think about choosing FSU for the division? Why?