Immediately after the draft, UNC linebacker/defensive end Malik Carney was one of the first undrafted players to sign an undrafted free agent (UDFA contract), unsurprisingly so given his ability and the premium placed on the position he plays. His draft-eligible teammates weren’t quite so immediately rewarded, but as of Monday night, three more Heels will be taking part in a professional team’s rookie camp: wide receiver Anthony Ratliff-Williams signed a UDFA contract with the Tennessee Titans, offensive tackle William Sweet signed a UDFA contract with the Arizona Cardinals, and defensive tackle Jeremiah Clarke was invited to the
Oakland Las Vegas Jon Gruden/Mike Mayock Raiders’ rookie minicamp, where he’ll be given a shot to impress them enough to sign a contract.
Ratliff-Williams found his home fairly soon after Carney did, going to the receiver-needy Titans. The Titans have one very good outside receiver, Corey Davis, and then a bunch of guys who do their best work in the slot: Taywan Taylor, Adam Humphries, and newly drafted A.J. Brown. Tajae Sharpe was a promising outside receiver in his first year but has since faded. With his skillset that favors playing on the outside, ARW has a legitimate chance to make the Titans’ 53-man and maybe even active roster come the fall. He has the skills, as I profiled here, he’s in the right place to make the most of his chance as a UDFA, and he has a nose for run blocking that I’m sure Titans head coach Mike Vrabel will appreciate, as run-friendly as he is.
The news of Sweet’s signing wasn’t announced until Monday, which could mean that he had lots of suitors to choose from, had to wait a while for any call, or that he found a team in a normal amount of time and it just wasn’t publicized. Who knows? The Cardinals have a fairly thin offensive line corps, especially on the outside. Past starters D.J. Humphries and Marcus Gilbert, the only reserve tackle listed on ESPN’s depth chart is 2018 7th round pick Korey Cunningham. This year, they drafted Joshua Miles out of Morgan State, a raw, athletic small-school prospect, in the 7th to provide some depth and competition, and Sweet will look to do the same. His experience and attractive physical traits could help him stick.
Clarke hasn’t signed a contract, so he’s got a significantly more uphill battle to climb than his former teammates who have. He’ll have to prove himself in practice to get a shot to play in preseason, and the Raiders have a comparative lot of bodies listed on their roster at defensive tackle. Jon Gruden loves himself a grinder, though, so “Fat Melo” ‘s work is cut out for him: show up with maximum intensity and you might find yourself extending the chance you’ve been given.
We’ll keep you posted on these guys’ progress throughout the offseason and that of any other Tar Heels who find their way into a professional franchise.