It might have snuck up on you, but the NFL Draft starts tomorrow! The event of the football offseason will begin at 8:00 PM Eastern from Las Vegas and go through the next two days as well... you know how this works. UNC, of course, sent five alumni to the NFL Combine who are hoping/expecting to be drafted over the course of the event, and as pre-draft activities draw to a close, here’s a compilation of the available information about how each of their processes has gone and where they’re being projected to go in the draft. Keep in mind that I’m only using 7-round mock drafts for this exercise — you have to go that deep to get to several of UNC’s picks anyways and it’s an exercise that really separates out the hardest workers in the industry. We’ll have draft profiles for most of these players going up over the course of the next two days.
Howell seemingly suffered from a lot of prospect fatigue for the period of time immediately after the Combine; a lot of the discussion around this draft’s quarterbacks seemed to sideline him in favor of not just the apparent top 2 — Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett — but also his ostensible peers, Desmond Ridder and Matt Corrall. Mock drafts at the beginning of April frequently had him falling to the back of the second or even the beginning of the third round. His media stock has been rebounding lately thanks to teams’ actions, though. It didn’t mean much when Jim Nagy said sources were telling him Howell sneaking into Round 1 wouldn’t be a surprise to him, because he shamelessly boosts anybody who’s participated in the Senior Bowl on information that’s tenuous at best. Tom Pelissero saying he’s among the guys who teams would like to trade into the back of Round 1 for, though, is legitimately something to keep an eye on. The Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Indianapolis Colts are the teams reported to have had Howell in for a top-30 visit. There could be others as well, but that’s what’s been reported. Here’s what the mock drafts are saying:
- The Athletic (Dane Brugler): Round 2, Pick 15 (47th overall) to the Washington Commanders (published April 14th)
- CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso): R1, P32 (32nd overall) to the Detroit Lions (published April 21st)
- Pro Football Network (Ian Cummings): R2, P16 (48th overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles, who have hypothetically traded up to Chicago’s spot (published April 24th)
- NFL.com (Chad Reuter): R1, P32 (32nd overall) to the Seattle Seahawks, who have hypothetically traded up with the Lions (published April 22nd)
- Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer): R3, P2 (66th overall) to the Detroit Lions (published April 26th)
- Consensus Mock Draft via NFL Mock Draft Database: R2, P2 (34th overall) to the Lions (aggregated the past 7 days from April 26) (note: the consensus mock only covers the first two rounds)
Chandler’s stock has been slowly but steadily growing ever since he ran under 4.4 at the NFL Combine, as evaluators seem to like not just his speed but also his experience as a returner, contact balance, and hands out of the backfield. He’s gone from a fringe draft prospect to somebody who will almost certainly be drafted on Day 3, if not earlier. He’s had Top-30 visits with at least the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks; the former especially makes all the sense in the world if the 49ers are making contingency plans for a post-Deebo Samuel world. Here’s where he slots in the mock drafts:
- TA: R7, P3 (224th overall) to the Miami Dolphins
- CBSS: R7, P23 (244th overall) to the Miami Dolphins (from Arizona via mock trade)
- PFN: R6, P36 (215th overall) to the Arizona Cardinals
- NFL: R3, P32 (96th overall) to the Denver Broncos
- SN: R6, P35 (214th overall) to the Los Angeles Chargers
While there isn’t a bunch being said about Ezeudu, as you might expect for a mid-round offensive lineman, the swingman certainly has been busy. He’s had top-30 visits with the Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys, and also possibly the Chicago Bears, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, and Buffalo Bills — the source on those is a little iffy. I’m not sure his stock has changed much; he was at the border of Day 2 and Day 3 before and that’s about where he stands now:
- TA: R4, P32 (137th overall) to the Carolina Panthers
- CBSS: R4, P29 (134th overall) to the Green Bay Packers (from 49ers via mock trade)
- PFN: R3, P22 (86th overall) to the Las Vegas Raiders
- NFL: R2, P28 (60th overall) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- SN: Undrafted
Gemmel’s got to have had one of the quietest pre-draft processes I’ve ever covered for a Heel who was invited to the Combine. There hasn’t been so much as a peep about any teams being interested in him since his Pro Day, which was pretty much his only opportunity to showcase himself in a practice setting in front of evaluators because he left the Combine only having done interviews. Still, the linebacker is a mainstay at the back end of mock drafts for his closing speed, sure tackling, and demonstrated leadership.
- TA: R6, P3 (182nd overall) to the New York Giants
- CBSS: R7, P29 (240th overall) to the Washington Commanders
- PFN: Undrafted
- NFL: R5, P33 (176th overall) to the Dallas Cowboys
- SN: Undrafted
While McKethan was invited to the Combine, his getting drafted isn’t a sure thing. Guards have relatively low value in the draft and a lot of quality ones have slid way down in the draft or even out of it entirely in the past few seasons, so that’s worth keeping in mind. It is notable, though, that the New York Jets apparently really like McKethan. They weren’t going to use a top-30 visit on a Day 3 prospect, but interest at all is a good sign for him, especially for a team that employs the guy he helped rewrite the UNC running back record book. McKethan is undrafted in every reputable 7-round mock draft I could find.
McMichael wasn’t invited to the combine, but the defensive back’s elite athletic traits and a good Shrine Bowl showing are apparently attractive enough for some draftniks to project him as a Day 3 pick. CBS Sports has him going late in the 7th round, 250th overall, to the Minnesota Vikings; Pro Football Network has him as the first pick of the 6th round, 180th overall, to the Jacksonville Jaguars; and NFL.com has him mid-6th, 193rd overall, to the Dallas Cowboys.