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NFL Draft: Tar Heel Recap

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All five of UNC’s draft-eligible players were selected this weekend

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Duke Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, UNC had a pretty decent showing in this weekend’s NFL Draft, ending up with 5 players selected to tie Clemson for second-most draftees in the ACC (Pittsburgh had 6), and tied with the most draftees in the conference through Day 2 (three). The five Heels drafted were the only players from last year’s team who had entered their name into the draft, so we don’t have to lament any of our guys being passed on or overlooked, or be stuck with the hope that they get enough opportunity to show out with the limited looks an undrafted free agent might get. Let’s take a quick look at how they all did, and what’s being said about them:

  • Javonte Williams was, as expected, the first Tar Heel off the board, notwithstanding some late whispers that Dyami Brown might sneak up ahead of him. After Najee Harris and Travis Etienne were taken back-to-back in the first round, Williams was still available on Friday, but not for long, as the Denver Broncos traded up five picks to take him with the 35th overall pick, the 3rd pick of the second round. Melvin Gordon had a mini-renaissance last year, but is far from a sure thing, so Williams has a chance to compete for carries, and even the lion’s share of them, early on. This was right about Williams’ expected range and he’s going to a team where his position is needed, so the draft grades are generally good, if confused about why a team would trade up for a running back. Here’s a video of the Denver War Room calling him:
  • Chazz Surratt was the next Heel drafted, which was a little bit less predictable but not all that surprising. He was taken in the middle of the third round, with pick 78 (14th pick in the round) by the Minnesota Vikings, and was the 6th linebacker taken. The Vikings are a great landing spot for his development, with a 4-3 defensive scheme where he can play off-ball outside linebacker and an excellent defensive coach in Mike Zimmer. I’m not expecting Surratt to start right away, even though Minnesota has a hole at their Will spot, but he’ll be in a good place to keep learning the position, improve his run fits, and learn to shed blocks. 78 was slightly above Surratt’s consensus value, and thus the press seems lukewarm on this pick — taking an older developmental prospect is a risk, but his athleticism and quick development to this point can’t be ignored. He doesn’t have a call video, but here’s the video of his selection:
  • Just four picks later at pick #82, Dyami Brown was selected by the Washington Football Team as their second third-rounder. Brown figures to be the flanker in a suddenly extremely good receiving corps after the WFT added Curtis Samuel in the offseason: Brown, Samuel, and Terry McLaurin should be right up there among the league’s fastest, most dangerous receiving lineups, and with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to them, Washington is going to give us some highlights if Ron Rivera manages to get out of his team’s way. Brown had been considered a near-lock for the second round, so grabbing him in the middle of the third has been widely lauded, even called the steal of the draft on more than one occasion. Again, no call video, but here’s a fun meme:
  • Teammate Michael Carter somewhat unexpectedly had to wait until the third day of the draft to hear his name called, but like backfield partner Williams, he was one of the first picks of his round: Carter was taken by the New York Jets with the 2nd pick of the 4th round, 107th overall, and was the 5th running back drafted. The Jets’ offense is getting totally revamped with this offseason, with a new coach, new quarterback, and, of course, a new run game after Frank Gore’s retirement and the Jets’ roster having no real running promise to speak of. Carter seems pretty happy with his landing spot, saying that he had a feeling he’d be going to New York and being seemingly ready for the bright lights of the City that Never Sleeps. Like Brown, Carter was a steal for where he was taken, and national media have reacted as such — not to the same degree, but everybody likes this pick. Here’s a call video, which seems to imply the Jets would have taken him if they’d had a third-round pick:

(also, please read this Twitter thread from Jake Lawler taking about how Carter saved his life.)

  • And finally, Dazz Newsome was selected in the 6th round, with pick 221 (37th pick in the round), by the Chicago Bears, pairing him with rookie quarterback and expected starter Justin Fields. The Bears have some offensive weapons for Fields, but Newsome could pretty easily find a niche as depth for Anthony Miller and a kick/punt returner, or just play as a second slot receiver with a penchant for big plays from the slot. Not a ton of people have said much about Newsome’s selection specifically, but he is part of a Bears draft class that’s getting accolades as one of the best of the weekend, so that counts for something, right? I don’t have anything special from the team’s Twitter account, either, so here’s a fun fact instead:

UNC only sent those five players to the draft, so like I said, we aren’t really looking out for undrafted free agents. Former Tar Heel K.J. Sails went undrafted and has yet to find an NFL home, but other than that, UNC’s draft season is pretty much done. Congrats to all five draft picks and I, personally, can’t wait to see them eat in the NFL.