As the UNC Sports calendar begins to wind down for the summer (but go Diamond Heels!), the football grad transfers start arriving, and Tony Bradley’s plans for next season have, however bittersweetly, become clear, the six Tar Heels in the 2017 NFL draft class are starting to report to camp. Here’s some of the early news on how they’re doing:
1. Mitch Trubisky, #2 overall, Chicago Bears. As you’d expect for a guy who was the #2 pick, the first quarterback taken, and the object of the most controversial trade of the draft, there’s been a bunch of news on Trubisky. It started with the post-draft revelation that the Bears weren’t the only team high on the Ohio native, with two scouts revealing that Trubisky had the highest rating they’d given anyone in six seasons.
There’s also a terrific story about how the Bears scouted Trubisky and tried to keep their interest secret. All of that will soon fade behind what Trubisky actually does as an NFL quarterback. The first thing he’ll have to do is overcome Mike Glennon (of course it had to be a State guy), who seemed to be as much caught off guard as anyone by the Bears’ pick.
If Trubisky is what the Bears seem to believe he is, it’s hard to see that competition lasting much more than a season, but early word is that the Bears want to bring Trubisky along slowly. If that plan holds, highlights like this one may be it for the Tar Heel rookie until 2018, which may be best for all concerned. Glennon’s contract is not guaranteed beyond 2017, so if the Bears think Trubisky is ready after next season, it will be easy for them to resolve the roster issue.
2. Nazair Jones, #102 overall, Seattle Seahawks. Jones just signed a 4-year contract with the Seahawks. Seattle has a lot of young talent along the defensive line for Jones to compete with, but there are no training camp reports to speak of yet.
3. Mack Hollins, #118 overall, Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles began their “voluntary” OTA workouts on Tuesday, where Hollins is joining a revamped offense being built around Carson Wentz. It didn’t take long for him to make an impression, as one camp observer observed that “Hollins, in particular, looks like a professional wide receiver and not just some special teams demon.” And if you’re a sucker for a story about a guy who will do whatever it takes to capitalize on his opportunity to realize an NFL dream, there’s already a story like that about Mack.
4. Ryan Switzer, #133 overall, Dallas Cowboys. The word “fearless” is already being used to describe Switzer in the early going in Cowboys OTAs. Generally projected to be a slot receiver, the Cowboys have used Switzer inside and outside during rookie camp, making a big impression with his speed and reliability.
5. TJ Logan, #179 overall, Arizona Cardinals. Logan, who has gotten some attention as a guy who may have been drafted too low, has shown well in the Cardinals’ OTAs. In addition to being broadly expected to get an opportunity to return kicks right out of the gate, the opportunity for Logan to contribute at running back may be bigger than expected.
Although David Johnson emerged as one of the NFL’s best, most versatile running backs last season, Andre Ellington, who would otherwise have been in Logan’s way as a complementary back to Johnson, has moved to wide receiver, making Logan’s path to meaningful minutes as an NFL running back clearer.
6. Elijah Hood, #242 overall, Oakland Raiders. It’s hard to think of a better back for Hood to learn from than Beast Mode himself, Marshawn Lynch, who shares Hood’s affinity for seeking out contact that others shy away from. It’s early (the Raiders start OTAs late), but in rookie camp it’s said that Hood turned heads. This kind of play will tend to do that.