After a stellar 2020 campaign, a lot is expected of the Tar Heels this season. Even while losing standout skill position players like Javonte Williams, Michael Carter, Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome, head coach Mack Brown has infused a new level of optimism into the once struggling Tar Heel program.
Those repercussions can be seen during the NFL Draft process, where they have begun to develop and push out a ton of NFL caliber players. The 2022 NFL Draft is no different.
Just how good is this class? I put them under the microscope.
QB Sam Howell (6012e, 225e)
The golden boy of the recent North Carolina resurgence, Sam Howell entered the 2021 college football season with a ton of hype as a potential early first round selection.
The NFL is a quarterback hungry league who is always going to push passers up the board. Howell brings a lot of attributes that evaluators, and coaches alike, will love. He is accurate to all levels of the field, profiling as one of the best deep passers in the class. Howell is also tough as nails, routinely staring down the gun barrel in the pocket and playing with a controlled recklessness when working out of structure.
From a physical perspective, Howell possesses adequate but yet uninspiring athletic gifts. He also works in a very simplistic offensive system, working mostly with RPO opportunities and pre snap locators outside. That can get him in trouble post snap, getting caught in some bad reads.
For a player who lacks big time athletic gifts, Howell needs to remain sound fundamentally and mentally sharp at all times. When those things fail, bad things tend to happen frequently.
LB Jeremiah Gemmel (6005v, 222v)
Quick twitch and explosive, Gemmel brings that prototypical run and chase WILL backer style who should excel working in pursuit. Massively overshadowed playing next to Chaz Surratt, there were times where Gemmel was the better second level defender for the Tar Heels last season.
He is able to transition downhill adequately, bringing a surprising amount of pop despite his size. When working to the perimeter, he has more than enough juice to make plays in support. In the passing game, there are flashes of really nice zone instincts but his lack of length can show up in his ability to close some throwing windows.
Gemmel’s eyes leave a lot to be desired currently. He is quick to trigger but he can get fooled mightily with redirection and play action, putting him out of position too often. The athletic gifts are obvious. Some team should have heavy interest but may fall to mid-late day three without heavy improvement with his eye discipline.
OL Joshua Ezeudu (6042e, 320e)
A part of an extremely experienced, but also overrated, Tar Heel offensive line, Ezeudu is the most talented of the group overall. Manning the left guard position for the majority of his career, Ezeudu resembles former Tampa Bay Pro Bowler Davin Joseph in a lot of ways.
He hits all the size thresholds you would want for the position. Ezeudu is plus in terms of power and athleticism profile, potentially profiling to both power and zone schemes adequately. There are reps where Ezeudu can be absolutely overwhelming at the point of attack. He has a powerful lower half, creating a ton of movement early on in reps. In pass protection, he is sound and patient, always seeming to be in control.
Consistency is the name of the game for Ezeudu. If he is able to put it all together on a snap to snap basis, there is starter upside here on the next level. Couple the talent with his ability to potentially slot in at all three interior positions and there is at worst a solid baseline as a rosterable interior lineman.
DE Tomon Fox (6023v, 268v)
A hybrid edge rusher with redeemable traits, Fox has continued to fill out his frame over the course of the last couple years. Despite not possessing ideal length, he has some redeemable traits to both even and odd man fronts. Needs a big bump in 2021 after leveling out over the last couple years in terms of production.
OL Marcus McKethan (6064v, 342v)
Destined to be a part of a heavy power scheme, McKethan brings some rare size to the offensive guard position. McKethan has some eye popping reps in the run game, displacing gaps with high regularity. Limited flexibility may limit him to power schemes.
OL Jordan Tucker (6060v, 352v)
Speaking of size, starting right tackle Jordan Tucker brings an absurd amount to the Tar Heel group. Tucker is an easy man to find on the field and an easy player to beat by opposing defensive lineman currently. He has slow feet and moderate flexibility, presenting a troubling projection. His size alone will offer him a long look.
WORTH KEEPING TABS ON
RB Ty Chandler (5110v, 208v)
Running back Ty Chandler entered the Tennessee program with a lot of hype. He never quite made the impact many expected. He has now taken over for the departed Jovonte Williams and Michael Carter in Chapel HIll. Chandler has some notable explosive and contact balance - but it is now or never.
DT Raymond Vohasek (6020v, 306v)
An underrated member of the Tar Heel defensive line, Vohasek does a lot of nice things at the nose guard position for the team. Originally a tight end at College of DuPage, Vohasek has some intriguing movement skills as a gap penetrating interior lineman. As he’s gained more strength, he has improved as an overall player. There are some limitations due to length and still developing power profile.
As we continue to work through the schedule, Notre Dame enters the brunt of their schedule. There are 2022 NFL Draft prospects galore. Specifically for Notre Dame fans and supporters, these players are ones to keep a very close eye on during their respective matchups.
Past NFL Draft Evaluations
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