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ESPN's Kiper ranks UNC players high for 2011 draft

Here's a little spring football news to tide you over until the Heels play basketball on Saturday. What, is some other basketball thingy going on this weekend or something?

ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper has released his top 5 players at each position and five Tar Heels have made the list, each in the top 3 at their respective spot.

The Carolina players on Kiper's Big Board include:

  • No. 1 DT Marvin Austin
  • No. 1 ILB Quan Sturdivant
  • No. 1 OLB Bruce Carter
  • No. 2 S Deaunta Williams
  • No. 3 TE Zack Pianalto

Wow.

Via Heather Dinich at ESPN's ACC blog:

It's also a black-and-white reminder of just how high the expectations are for North Carolina's defense. Kiper has three Tar Heels ranked No. 1 at their respective positions and five ranked overall. (Not sure people realized just how much TE Zack Pianalto's injury last year hurt the Heels.) There's no shortage of NFL talent for Butch Davis to work with. It's a different story for Paul Johnson, though, this year.

Putting aside Dinich's well-evident love for all things Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech, she does make a salient point about the impact of Pianalto's injury. It will be interesting to see how next season all comes together with 21 returning starters.