Boston College football wrapped up an up-and-down 2018 regular season on a sour note with a 42-21 loss to Syracuse on Saturday at Alumni Stadium. The team finished with a winning record of 7-5 and earned a bowl game birth. Nonetheless, the Eagles left fans hungry for more after preseason hype led to high expectations for a program looking to take the next step. On the bright side, a hot start saw BC enter the AP poll top 25 rankings for the first time in nearly a decade, and the team rose to as high as 17th in the ESPN college football playoff rankings.
The Eagles even grabbed the attention of the College Gameday crew when BC squared off against #2 ranked Clemson in early November. The Eagles landed 11 players on the All-ACC football teams announced on Monday, the second most out of any program in the conference. AJ Dillon, Tommy Sweeney, Chris Lindstrom, and Hamp Cheevers received First-Team honors; Zach Allen and Michael Walker headlined the Second-Team, and Aaron Monteiro, Wyatt Ray, Ray Smith, Connor Strachan, and Will Harris rounded out the Third-Team. Ben Petrula and Jon Baker were acknowledged as honorable mentions.
With only a bowl game to go, it is time once again to look at how some potential 2019 NFL Draft candidates have affected their draft stock during this rollercoaster of a season.
Zach Allen—Defensive End, Senior
After a dominant junior campaign saw Allen rack up 100 tackles including 15.5 of them for loss, the mammoth 285-pound lineman picked up right where he left off. This year, he dominated opposing offenses to the tune of another 15 tackles for loss with 6.5 sacks and 7 batted down passes. Allen’s tackles dropped to only 61 in 2018, but this shouldn’t raise many concerns. The Connecticut native looked physically dominant all year and attracted much more attention and double teams from opposing offensive lines. Allen put up signature performances this year against Louisville, when he recorded seven tackles and earned an ACC Defensive Player of the Week recognition, and on the road at Virginia Tech, when he broke up two passes, made four tackles, and recovered a fumble. After receiving preseason first-round hype, Allen solidified his first-day spot with his play in 2018 and is currently being mocked as a mid-first round pick in a draft heavy with D-Line talent. Where Allen ultimately lands depends largely on his combine performance, where he will have the opportunity to showcase his freakish athleticism and build in front of NFL scouts.
The Verdict: Stock Up
Chris Lindstrom—Offensive Lineman, Senior
Despite flying under the radar before the season, Chris Lindstrom exploded on the national stage in 2018 by anchoring an offensive line that paved the way for BC to run for almost 200 yards per game. Lindstrom sees the majority of his snaps at right guard where he uses his hulking 6’4, 310-pound frame to punish defenders and create lanes for AJ Dillon. At his size, first-time All-ACC First Team selection has excellent mobility and is consistently able to get downfield to the second level and finish off blocks. Lindstrom’s calling card is his technical ability. He uses his hands and powerful upper body strength to keep defenders at bay. Coaches will love his leadership and intelligence on the field which is a big reason why most mock drafts see him as an early to middle second-day prospect, with USA Today going as far to slot him as a late first-rounder.
The Verdict: Stock Up
Lukas Denis—Defensive Back, Senior
Coming into the 2018 season on the coattails of a Walter Camp Second Team All-American selection, Lukas Denis was seen one of the most dangerous ballhawks in America and a potential late first round pick. A strong start to 2018 backed up this sentiment, but overall, Denis failed to match his 2017 production of 83 tackles and seven interceptions by posting only 49 tackles and one interception. NFL scouts will be wary of Denis’s small 5’11, 185-pound build. Primarily positioned as a safety, Denis saw time at cornerback against NC State, showcasing the athleticism and versatility that made him so highly touted in the first place. He has excellent awareness with the speed and ball skills to match, but a lack of production in his senior season has his stock slipping to a probable early third-day prospect.
The Verdict: Stock Down
Hamp Cheevers—Defensive Back, Junior
While Lukas Denis disappointed at times, his running mate in the secondary, Hamp Cheevers, burst onto the scene to make up for it. Cheevers led the nation with seven interceptions in 2018 including an 81-yard pick six against Holy Cross. Like Denis, Cheevers is a scrappy ballhawk who mirrors and tracks receivers well in coverage and has the athleticism to routinely jump routes and make plays on the ball. However, he can be a liability in run defense at times—he only recorded 39 tackles on the season. Cheevers also has an average build for a corner at 5’10, 180 pounds and was noticeably beaten often by bigger wideouts on jump balls. If he entered the draft this year, Cheevers would likely warrant a third-day selection. With additional NCAA eligibility under his belt, Hamp Cheevers will most likely return to the Heights for his senior season where he can improve on his play as one of the nation’s elite corners.
The Verdict: Stock Up
Tommy Sweeney—Tight End, Graduate Student
Tommy Sweeney will officially close out a stellar BC football career when the Eagles play their bowl game in a few weeks. At 6’5, 260 pounds, Sweeney has the prototypical size for an NFL tight end and acts as a Swiss Army knife on the offensive side of the ball. Sweeney has soft hands that allow him to pull down passes in tight coverage and is an elite blocker both in setting the edge in the run game and bulldozing smaller defenders downfield in the passing game. However, he isn’t an exceptional athlete nor route runner, which might limit his receiving ability at the next level. Sweeney dropped slightly in statistical production but still remains one of Anthony Brown’s favorite targets and an incredibly reliable third down and short yardage threat. Look to hear Sweeney’s name called sometime in the middle rounds of the draft on the second or early third day.
The Verdict: Stock Steady
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