An ACC coach says the conference's two elite quarterbacks -- Clemson's Deshaun Watson and Miami's Brad Kaaya -- are bound for elite draft status as well.
"Both of them are top picks in the draft," the coach told ESPN. "Those guys have all the attributes. They have the measurables, but they have the talent level, intelligence level, decision-making process, athleticism, accuracy. They have all those things. They're big-time players."
Both are juniors this fall and will have to decide after the season whether to enter the 2017 NFL Draft or return to college next year. Watson is certainly the more accomplished of the two, having led the Tigers to the College Football Playoff title game last year with a dual-threat style that confounds defensive coordinators. Along with 4,109 passing yards, he rushed for another 1,105 over 15 games last year.
The two highly effective passers have very different styles and could find themselves matched head-to-head in the ACC title game in December.
"They're both great quarterbacks, but if I've got to pick, I'd rather play against the one who doesn't run," another coach said.
That would be Kaaya, who is more of a pocket passer. Kaaya threw for 3,238 yards a year ago, with 16 touchdowns and just five interceptions, and did so with less surrounding offensive talent than the cast that Watson led to the brink of a national title before falling to Alabama, 45-40.
NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein ranked Watson as the No. 1 quarterback in the nation to watch and Kaaya at No. 7. Other top CFB passers could ultimately have their own hand in determining where Watson and Kaaya fall on the draft board.
But for now, there aren't two quarterbacks in the same conference with any more draft buzz than the ACC's top pair.