NC in the NFL Draft
Over the past week, the lives of 272 young men and their families not just all over the country but all over the world will be changed when they hear their names called in Kansas City by Roger Goodell, welcoming them into the NFL. While states like Texas and Florida both have hundreds of athletes who have turned into first round picks, North Carolina’ has had almost one hundred athletes from our state previously get drafted in the first round and countless more in the coming rounds after.
Before we cover some of our athletes from out of state, let’s cover our collegiate athletes. Weirdly enough the schools with the most draft picks were UNC with four players picked, Wake Forest with two , and NC State with one guy drafted.
UNC had its first player taken off the board with wide receiver Josh downs being taken at pick 79. Downs will hopefully be a day one starter as other than Michael Pittman, Indianapolis lacks a wide receiver 2. Later on day three linebacker Asim Richards was drafted by the Cowboys, wide receiver Antoine Green was drafted by the Detroit Lions, and offensive lineman Ray Vorshek went to the Jacksonville Jaguars. While Vorshek and Richards may not start on day one, Antoine Green and Josh Downs have the opportunity to secure themselves in the starting line ups in their franchises as both franchises need a wide receiver 2 and 3.
Next up was Wake Forest. Defensive tackle Kobie Turner was their first player taken off the board. Turner was drafted in the 3rd round by the Los Angeles Rams. Turner may not be a day 1 starter as the Rams have two Tackles, former NC State player Larrell Murchison and superstar Arron Donald. However, Turner could get some rotational starts as Donald is aging, and the Rams sooner or later will need a replacement. The second player Wake Forest had drafted was wide receiver AT Perry who was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the sixth round with pick 189. Perry could start as a wide receiver 3; however, the Saints had a dedicated top four offensive playmakers in Chris Olave, Alvin Kamara, Taysom Hill and Micheal Thomas.
NC State, while sending more guys to the draft, only had one guy drafted. Chandler Zalava, who plays guard, was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the fifth round. Zalava will get to play with his former teammate Ikem Ekwonu .
While a few of the young men from NC got their dreams fulfilled and heard their names during the draft, many more including NC State star wide receiver Thayer Thomas and running back Kenton Mitchell out of ECU were signed as undrafted free agents.
Now while I just highlighted some of the best college players North Carolina brought to the draft, some of our former high school legends also were drafted. The first North Carolina legend was Keion White who was taken 48th overall by the New England Patriots. While his high school numbers are unavailable, he finished his senior year being named 3rd team ACC and had 53 total tackles, 3rd on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Another legend who was drafted was quarterback Hendon Hooker. Hooker played high school ball at Dudley High School. He passed for 6,027 yards and 55 touchdowns; he also rushed for 2,975 yards and 48 touchdowns. He played his first two years at Virginia Tech, and after 2 disappointing years at VT he transferred to the University of Tennessee where his career blew up. While at Tennessee he beat at the time #3 Alabama, gave #1 georgia a run for their money, and beat then #18 Kentucky before tearing his ACL in the week 9 game against South Carolina.
With those guys going to the NFL and several highly rated recruits committing to major division 1 programs, North Carolina is quickly letting the country know it is a place that can produce some of the best athletes in the country.