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UNC football is probably going to have a better draft than UNC basketball

Basketball might have a national title, but football produced six draft picks in 2017.

2017 NFL Draft Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The number of draft picks that come from a team is not always equal to the amount of success that team had on the field. In football, there’s been cases where teams have had more draft picks than wins. In basketball, the numbers of players drafted is small, not to mention the added pool of international players that don’t play in college.

However in general, good college teams have good players. Obviously. It’s not a perfect equivalence, but you would usually expect the better teams in a sport to have some amount of success in their draft.

At UNC in 2017, football and basketball have fairly differing levels of success. Football didn’t have a bad season, but it ended poorly and included two incredibly frustrating losses to their two biggest rivals. Basketball, of course, ended with a national championship. Yet, UNC football is probably going to end up having a more impressive draft class in 2017.

Football had six players drafted, including the #2 overall pick. Basketball will probably get two drafted, with an outside chance for two others. Justin Jackson will be a mid to late first round pick, and Tony Bradley might get into the first, but will probably go in the second round.

That’s not to say that either of those things in explicable. All six football Tar Heels deserved to be drafted and all have a chance at having an at least decent NFL career. On the basketball side, it’s well worn territory that Roy Williams’ team has had success on the court despite not getting the seeming surefire future NBA talent.

But historially, North Carolina has been a school where those two things are reversed. The football program is solid but has never quite broken into the top level. The basketball program is one of if not the biggest names in the sport.

In terms of pure numbers, football has had more players drafted, but that’s obvious. The football draft is way longer, and there are way more roster spots in the league. At the top of the draft, basketball has had 23 top ten picks, compared to nine for football.

What is it exactly that has led to 2017 being a more productive football draft than basketball for UNC, despite what happened on the field? One thing might be the nature of the two draft eligibility rules

A player can’t go to the NFL Draft unless they are three years out of high school. The 2017 draft coincided with a bunch of players on a veteran laden team becoming eligible or graduating. They’re also all players that were just on a 10+ win team from the season before.

The basketball team was obviously also filled with juniors and seniors. But because of the one and done rule and the “NCAA junk” as Roy would call it, UNC hasn’t really been getting the players that typically go one and done. (Ironically this year, they do have a one and done, even if a segment of the fan base questions that decision.) The likes of Justin Jackson developing over the course of three years aren’t exactly rare, but they generally aren’t the people going top five anymore.

There just also seem to be fewer Mitch Trubisky type picks in the NBA. That’s not meant as a slam on Trubisky. It’s more than fair to be optimistic about his NFL career. However, even UNC fans might not have expected him to go #2 back in December. The top ten of an NBA mock draft isn’t going to look drastically different that one from before the season. The same can’t always be said for NFL mock drafts.

Basically, UNC football producing a better draft than a championship-winning UNC basketball team seems to be another reason to be grateful for Roy Williams more than anything. In a loaded NBA draft, he took a team with one, maybe two, first round picks to a title. That’s pretty good. In general, the two major money-making sports at North Carolina look to be in pretty decent shape.