Heisman favorite Deshaun Watson headlines our preseason All-ACC team

The 2016 season is closing in, so that means it is time to unveil the ESPN.com preseason All-ACC team. We had hearty debates about several of the spots, making the decisions even more difficult than usual this time around.


QB -- Deshaun Watson, Clemson. Plenty of talent at the position across the ACC, none more so than Watson, the preseason favorite to win the Heisman.

RB -- Elijah Hood, North Carolina. Hood had a breakout season a year ago, and more is expected this season behind one of the strongest lines in the ACC.

RB -- Dalvin Cook, Florida State. The big question heading into the season: Is there any way Cook hits 2,000 yards?

WR -- Mike Williams, Clemson. Williams is completely healthy after missing nearly all of last season because of a neck injury and is expected to have another 1,000-yard season.

WR -- Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech. Ford became the first 1,000-yard receiver in school history a year ago and will be the featured player in Justin Fuente's new offense.

TE -- Jaylen Samuels, NC State. Samuels, Jordan Leggett and Bucky Hodges make quite a trio of top ACC tight ends. But Samuels' versatility means he will have a career year.

OT -- Rod Johnson, Florida State. Johnson already has won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the best blocker in the ACC and returns as one of the best tackles in the country.

OT -- Mitch Hyatt, Clemson. Hyatt started every game as a true freshman last season and finished with 37 knockdown blocks, second on the team.

OG -- Dorian Johnson, Pittsburgh. Johnson is one of the best guards in the country and is expected to help anchor one of the best offensive lines in the ACC.

OG -- Caleb Peterson, North Carolina. Peterson enters his fourth season as a starter and is one of the most reliable linemen in the league.

C -- Jay Guillermo, Clemson. Guillermo has overcome personal adversity to become a steady, standout lineman.


DE -- DeMarcus Walker, Florida State. Walker emerged as one of the best pass-rushers in the ACC a year ago and should hit double-digit sacks again.

DE -- Ejuan Price, Pitt. Price is back for a sixth season and is expected to anchor a Pitt defensive line that prides itself on getting after the quarterback.

DT -- Carlos Watkins, Clemson. There might be some uncertainty at defensive end at Clemson, but that is not the case on the inside of the line, where Watkins has proven he can hold it down in the middle.

DT -- DeAngelo Brown, Louisville. Brown should be a standout on a Louisville defense that has been stingy against the run under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

LB -- Ben Boulware, Clemson. Boulware is the energetic leader of the Clemson defense, but he's also an aggressive tackler -- he had 138 last season.

LB -- Devonte Fields, Louisville. One of the preseason favorites to win Defensive Player of the Year, Fields is poised to improve on a season in which he had 22.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks.

LB -- Connor Strachan, Boston College. Coach Steve Addazio has sung the praises of Strachan, who had 10.5 tackles for loss and is one of the biggest keys under new defensive coordinator Jim Reid.

S -- Derwin James, Florida State. James had a breakout season as a true freshman (finishing with 91 tackles) and is one of the best, most versatile athletes in the country.

S -- Jordan Whitehead, Pitt. Coach Pat Narduzzi says he wants Whitehead to play both ways again, but safety is where Whitehead should continue to excel after winning ACC Rookie of the Year honors.

CB -- Des Lawrence, North Carolina. Lawrence had 14 pass breakups and two interceptions a year ago but should be even better as he anchors one of the best secondaries in the league.

CB -- Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson. Coach Dabo Swinney says Tankersley is a first-round talent with a shot at having a huge year. He's the shutdown corner the otherwise inexperienced Clemson secondary needs.


P -- Nicholas Conte, Virginia. Conte led the ACC last year with an average of 44.7 yards per punt, tied for the third-best average in school history.

K -- Nick Weiler, North Carolina. Weiler put together one of the best seasons in school history in 2015, with 119 points to rank second all time.

Returner -- DeVon Edwards, Duke. Edwards needs one kickoff return for a touchdown to tie the ACC and NCAA career record of seven (C.J. Spiller, 2006-09 at Clemson).