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UNC football players in next year’s NFL Draft

Is Mitch Trubisky a future number one pick? A look at him and other future NFL Tar Heels.

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The season has come to an end (aside from the bowl game) and many UNC players are now forced to wrestle with the idea of taking their talents to the NFL or not. UNC hasn’t had a player drafted since 2014, which only saw one Tar Heel taken in the first round with Eric Ebron to the Detroit Lions.

According to many sites and analysts this could be UNC’s deepest draft class yet and could rival the 2011 class that saw 9 players taken.

This isn’t a list of everyone who may go pro but rather a list of where everyone is projected to get drafted if they were to take that next step to the NFL.

1. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky

“With the first pick in 2017 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select Mitch Trubisky, quarterback, North Carolina.”

For a month or so now we have heard quite a bit of talk about Trubisky going as the top pick in next year’s NFL Draft. He is a clear cut first rounder at this point and many different sites and NFL experts firmly believe that he could be the first player off the board. Mitch could come back for a final season at UNC but will the possibility of getting drafted to his hometown state lure him to leave early?

2. Running Back Elijah Hood

Elijah Hood has been really good for UNC and somehow also really underutilized, especially in the red zone. For reference see Jake Lawrence’s article here. Hood has the ability to come back to UNC if he so chooses, but if he decides to make the leap, he is projected to be drafted in the 3rd or 4th round, according to CBSSports.com. Hood has the physical makeup and running style that many teams covet. However, this year’s running back class is loaded with players like Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Christian McCaffrey, to name a few. Due to his injuries and this loaded class, it may be in his best interest to stay for his senior year.

3. Wide Receiver Ryan Switzer

Switzer has been the most consistent wide receiver North Carolina has possibly ever seen. He holds the all-time UNC record for receptions, is 2nd in yards and 5th in touchdowns, and has shown his big-play ability in both receiving and punt returning. He has clearly impressed the scouts over his time at UNC as he is being slotted as a future 4-5 round pick.

4. Defensive Tackle Nazair Jones

Nothing is official yet, since Jones could still come back for his senior year in Carolina blue. He, like a few of his teammates, has taken to Twitter to dispel any rumors about his jump to the NFL. However, the defensive tackle climbed high on many boards this year and could see himself getting drafted as early as the 4-5 round range.

5. Offensive Tackle Jon Heck

The second team All-ACC tackle is listed as the 10th best offensive tackle, and scouts believe that he could go as early as the 5th round in next year’s NFL Draft.

6. Cornerback M.J. Stewart

M.J. Stewart is currently being projected as a 5-6 round pick if he opts to go pro this year.

7. Cornerback Des Lawrence

I’ve seen Des Lawrence listed as high as a potential 4th round draft pick but most boards have him listed as going in the 6-7 round range.

8. Safety Donnie Miles

Donnie Miles isn’t incredibly high on many draft boards but walterfootball.com seems to think he could be a second day pick. According to their site, Miles could be a 3rd round pick if he opts to go pro this year.

9. Offensive Guard Caleb Peterson

Despite his season ending injury, Caleb Peterson is listed as a potential 6th round pick and ranked as the 9th best offensive guard according to nfldraftscout.com.

10. Wide Receiver Mack Hollins

Although I don’t necessarily agree with this one, Hollins is listed as a potential 6th or 7th round pick. He only recorded 16 catches for 309 yards (19.3 average) and four touchdowns through seven games this year, but he is still one of the best deep ball threats in college football. With 20 touchdowns over 2.5 seasons and an average reception of 20.5 yards, Hollins should find a home with some team in the NFL.

11. Wide Receiver Bug Howard

Howard is currently listed as a potential 6-7 round draft pick. His stock has definitely risen this year due to his expanded role once Hollins went down for the season. As a result, Howard set personal bests this year in catches, yards, and touchdowns.

12. Center Lucas Crowley

UNC’s offensive line struggled this year plagued by injuries and poor play. One thing that was consistent was the play of three-year starter Lucas Crowley. The second team All-ACC center is projected to be taken in the 7th round, according to CBSSports.com, and is ranked by nfldraftscout.com as the 8th best center in the draft.

13. Running Back T.J. Logan

I honestly haven’t seen T.J. Logan listed on any NFL Draft boards. I’m including him here because I truly believe that he will get drafted and make some NFL team very happy.

It may seem as though this is all premature since the NFL Draft isn’t until April and the college football season isn’t even over yet. However, underclassmen have until January 16th to declare for the draft, so the reality of all of this is a lot closer than it seems. UNC has a handful of guys who could come back next year, and we should know who that will include soon enough.