When ESPN recently did their NFL ultimate All-Conference teams for current players, they ranked the ACC as the third-best conference overall.

After looking at the best players at each Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and Pac-12 school in the NFL since 1980, let’s now look at the ACC. For this exercise, what they did in college means nothing; it’s only what they did at the professional level. The five best players from each college over that timeframe are ranked, and the 14 schools in the conference are placed from worst to first based on those five players.

14. Duke

  • 1. Laken Tomlinson (G)
  • 2. Jamison Crowder (WR)
  • 3. Matt Skura (C)
  • 4. Daniel Jones (QB)
  • 5. Charles Bowser (LB)

Nobody who started their NFL career in 1980 or later from Duke has been named to a Pro Bowl. Can Daniel Jones become the first?

Honorable mentions: Vincent Rey (LB), Ross Cockrell (CB)

13. Wake Forest

  • 1. Tony Mayberry (C)
  • 2. Michael McCrary (DE)
  • 3. Tyson Clabo (OT)
  • 4. Calvin Pace (LB)
  • 5. Billy Ard (G)

McCrary was a starter on the famous 2000 Ravens defense that won the Super Bowl and had three seasons of at least 11.5 sacks.

Honorable mentions: Ricky Proehl (WR), Fred Robbins (DT)

12. Georgia Tech

  • 1. Calvin Johnson (WR)
  • 2. Pat Swilling (LB)
  • 3. Keith Brooking (LB)
  • 4. Demaryius Thomas (WR)
  • 5. Daryl Smith (LB)

In 2012, Johnson set a new NFL record (that still holds) with 1,964 receiving yards.

Honorable mentions: Dave Lutz (OT/G), Dorsey Levens (RB)

11. North Carolina State

  • 1. Torry Holt (WR)
  • 2. Phillip Rivers (QB)
  • 3. Mario Williams (DE)
  • 4. Adrian Wilson (S)
  • 5. Vaughan Johnson (LB)

In 2005, Wilson set what is still a NFL record with eight sacks which is the most-ever in a single season by a defensive back.

Honorable mentions: Dewayne Washington (CB), Jim Ritcher (G), Haywood Jeffires (WR)

10. Virginia

  • 1. Ronde Barber (CB)
  • 2. Tiki Barber (RB)
  • 3. Herman Moore (WR)
  • 4. James Farrior (LB)
  • 5. Patrick Kerney (DE)

In his last two seasons (2005-06), Tiki Barber combined to rush for 3,522 yards while adding an additional 995 in the receiving game.

Honorable mentions: Matt Schaub (QB), Thomas Jones (RB), D’Brickashaw Ferguson (OT), Jamie Sharper (LB), Heath Miller (TE)

9. Louisville

  • 1. Lamar Jackson (QB)
  • 2. Joe Jacoby (OT)
  • 3. Bruce Armstrong (OT)
  • 4. Ted Washington (DT)
  • 5. Sam Madison (CB)

Perhaps Jackson shouldn’t be first already, but it’s hard to argue after his MVP season of 2019 where he led the league with 36 passing scores and ran for 1,206 yards.

Honorable mentions: Frank Minnifield (CB), Mark Clayton (WR), Ray Buchanan (CB), Ernest Givens (WR), Elvis Dumervil (LB/DE), David Akers (K)

8. Boston College

  • 1. Matt Ryan (QB)
  • 2. Luke Kuechly (LB)
  • 3. Tom Nalen (C)
  • 4. Chris Snee (G)
  • 5. Bill Romanowski (LB)

Named the league’s MVP in 2016, the 35-year-old Ryan currently ranks 10th in career passing yards (51,186) and 11th in passing touchdowns (321).

Honorable mentions: Joe Nash (DT), Dan Koppen (C), Anthony Castonzo (OT), Ron Stone (G)

7. Virginia Tech

  • 1. Bruce Smith (DE)
  • 2. Kam Chancellor (S)
  • 3. Michael Vick (QB)
  • 4. Duane Brown (OT)
  • 5. Kyle Fuller (CB)

In his legendary career, Smith twice was named Defensive Player and is the all-time sack leader with 200.

Honorable mentions: Antonio Freeman (WR), DeAngelo Hall (CB), Mike Johnson (LB), Tremaine Edmunds (LB)

6. Clemson

  • 1. Brian Dawkins (S)
  • 2. DeAndre Hopkins (WR)
  • 3. Deshaun Watson (QB)
  • 4. Michael Dean Perry (DT)
  • 5. Trevor Pryce (DE/DT)

According to NBC Sports, Dawkins is the only player in NFL history to tally at least 25 interceptions (had 37), 25 sacks (26), and 25 forced fumbles (36).

Honorable mentions: Levon Kirkland (LB), Chester McGlockton (DT), Jeff Bostic (C), Terry Allen (RB), Grady Jarrett (DT)

5. Syracuse

  • 1. Marvin Harrison (WR)
  • 2. Art Monk (WR)
  • 3. Donovan McNabb (QB)
  • 4. Dwight Freeney (DE)
  • 5. Chandler Jones (DE/LB)

Only three players in NFL history are credited with more than Freeney’s 46 careers forced fumbles (John Abraham 47, Julius Peppers 52, Robert Mathis 54).

Honorable mentions: Rob Burnett (DE), Keith Bulluck (LB), Rob Moore (WR), Gary Anderson (K), Joe Morris (RB)

4. North Carolina

  • 1. Lawrence Taylor (LB)
  • 2. Julius Peppers (DE/LB)
  • 3. Jeff Saturday (C)
  • 4. Harris Barton (OT)
  • 5. William Fuller (DE)

Taylor and Peppers combined to play 30 seasons, and they reached double figures in sacks in 17 of them.

Honorable mentions: Greg Ellis (DE/LB), Robert Quinn (DE), Dre’ Bly (CB)

3. Florida State

  • 1. Deion Sanders (CB)
  • 2. Derrick Brooks (LB)
  • 3. Walter Jones (OT)
  • 4. LeRoy Butler (S)
  • 5. Anquan Boldin (WR)

Boldin had one of the most prolific rookie seasons ever by a receiver in 2003 when he totaled 101 catches for 1,377 yards and eight scores.

Honorable mentions: Warrick Dunn (RB), Tra Thomas (OT), Brad Johnson (QB), Darnell Dockett (DT), Antonio Cromartie (CB), Peter Boulware (LB), Rodney Hudson (C), Xavier Rhodes (CB), Jalen Ramsey (CB), Dalvin Cook (RB), Derwin James (S)

2. Pittsburgh

  • 1. Dan Marino (QB)
  • 2. Aaron Donald (DR)
  • 3. Curtis Martin (RB)
  • 4. Larry Fitzgerald (WR)
  • 5. Darrelle Revis (CB)

Pittsburgh has had a plethora of high-level players at the pro level, so much so that four Hall of Famers (Chris Doleman, Rickey Jackson, Russ Grimm, Jimbo Covert) were relegated to the honorable mentions.

Honorable mentions: Chris Doleman (DE), Rickey Jackson (LB), Mark Stepnoski (C), Ruben Brown (G), LeSean McCoy (RB), Russ Grimm (G), Jeff Christy (C), Bill Fralic (G), Jimbo Covert (OT)

1. Miami

  • 1. Ray Lewis (LB)
  • 2. Ed Reed (S)
  • 3. Warren Sapp (DT)
  • 4. Michael Irvin (WR)
  • 5. Jim Kelly (QB)

All five players are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and they combined for 39 Pro Bowl nods as well as 18 First Team All-Pro appearances.

Honorable mentions: Reggie Wayne (WR), Cortez Kennedy (DT), Calais Campbell (DE), Vinny Testaverde (QB), Andre Johnson (WR), Frank Gore (RB), Vince Wilfork (DT), Ottis Anderson (RB), Jessie Armstead (LB), Santana Moss (WR), Clinton Portis (RB), Jimmy Graham (TE), Devin Hester (WR)