A total of six UNC alums tried their luck with the NFL during the 2016 NFL offseason: OG Landon Turner, LB Shakeel Rashad, WR Quinshad Davis, LB Jeff Schoettmer, QB Marquise Williams, and RB Romar Morris. Although none were drafted, they all earned the chance to compete for a roster spot on various teams. Here's how their offseasons went:
RB Romar Morris:
Morris, despite his limited production in his senior year, was picked up by the New York Jets as a potential third-string running back and kick returner. Unfortunately, his shoulder was injured during the preseason and will require surgery. Morris was placed on Injured Reserve for the 2016 season. He will again have a chance to compete for a roster spot next year.
ILB Jeff Schoettmer:
After the draft, Jeff Schoettmer knew which team he wanted to fight for a spot with: the New Orleans Saints. As a former walk-on to the UNC football team, this process was nothing new to him. After surviving the first roster cut, Schottmer was waived/injured by the Saints. After he cleared waivers, he was placed on IR and will also have a chance to compete next year.
OLB Shakeel Rashad:
Rashad signed with the Houston Texans immediately after the draft despite their depth at outside linebacker. He reportedly impressed in preseason in both training camp and preseason game action, and was rewarded with a spot on the Texans' practice squad. According to area beat writers, the Texans staff really likes Rashad; when they told him he wouldn't be making the final roster, they also told him not to leave town because they planned on keeping him around. He might have an NFL future yet.
WR Quinshad Davis:
Davis signed with the Detroit Lions, a team which is undergoing an upheaval at wide receiver. Davis was very impressive throughout training camp after a brutal rookie camp, and according to several beat writers, was competing for a spot on the roster after having been an afterthought initially. Unfortunately, he couldn't translate this performance into preseason games, where he was consistently plagued by drops. Davis was released from the Lions roster during the cut to 53 and failed to make the practice squad, and is currently a free agent. I think he has the talent to play in the NFL, so hopefully some team gives him a chance with a practice squad signing or futures contract.
QB Marquise Williams:
Williams signed with the Green Bay Packers hoping to compete for their 3rd QB spot. Quise had an erratic preseason, scrambling often instead of trying to find his receivers. He was eventually released and is currently a free agent. Some quarterbacks like Quise have found homes in the NFL, such as Joe Webb, a similarly erratic passer who panics easily in the pocket at the NFL level. In order to find his home with the Carolina Panthers, though, Webb had to prove his value: first as a returner and emergency receiver, then as a special teams gunner. Quise may have to show a similar willingness to not just be a quarterback if he is to find a place in the NFL. He could also try to find a role in the CFL, which is more similar to the college game than the NFL is.
OG Landon Turner:
Landon Turner going undrafted was one of the 2016 draft's bigger surprises. Widely seen as a 4th-5th round talent, Turner did not let this setback deter him and signed with the New Orleans Saints. He impressed throughout rookie camp and training camp, and was eventually rewarded with a spot on the Saints' 53-man roster. He will begin the season backing up starting guards Andrus Peat and Tim Lelito.
Be sure to root for the Tar Heel family this NFL season!