Tag:North Carolina Tar Heels
Posted on: December 1, 2011 3:44 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 3:44 pm
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Rookie QB T.J. Yates could surprise with Texans

NFL teams have been impressed thus far with the development of the class of 2011's quarterbacks. Cam Newton has already emerged as one of the league's most exciting players and Andy Dalton has the Bengals in the thick of the playoff hunt. Though wins and big plays have been tougher to come by for Christian Ponder (Vikings) and Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars) thus far, each have shown flashes.

The relative success of his young peers bodes well for the Houston Texans and their rookie quarterback, T.J. Yates.

Yates, graded as a sixth round pick last year by NFLDraftScout.com, was the Texans' 5th round pick (No. 152 overall).

A year earlier, the idea of Yates being drafted at all would have been considered a long shot.

As a junior Yates completed barely 60% of his passes and threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns on the season (14) despite being surrounded by a lot of NFL talent, including current Cleveland Browns' rookie Greg Little and rising 2012 prospect Dwight Jones, among others.

Yates, however, showed remarkable poise a year later during the scandal that eventually led to year-long suspensions of Little, defensive tackle Marvin Austin and defensive end Robert Quinn, among others.

While everything around him was crumbling, Yates developed into a legitimate pro prospect, completing 66.% of his passes for 3,418 yards and a 19-9 touchdown to interception ratio. For his improvement, Yates was named an honorable mention All-ACC pick and helped lead the Tar Heels to a dramatic double overtime victory over Tennessee in the Music City Bowl.

When Yates entered last Sunday's game against the Jaguars, he did so with the same poise and leadership he'd demonstrated while at UNC. The moment wasn't too big for him -- a testament to the calm he's gained as a three-year starter while at UNC.

Certainly there are other quarterbacks with greater talent. Yates, in fact, will be playing opposite one this week in Atlanta's Matt Ryan. Like Ryan, however, Yates is more than the sum of his parts. While he doesn't have a howizter or great mobility, he's already a savvy enough player to spread the ball out to Houston's playmakers and manage a game.

For the AFC-South leading Texans, that may be all he has to do to help them reach the playoffs.


 

Posted on: September 21, 2011 9:39 am
 

Some teams grading Coples back at DT

Considering the rare blend of size, power and speed that Quenton Coples demonstrated in 2010 while at defensive tackle, many assumed that the North Carolina Tar Heel would be able to duplicate -- or even improve -- as a senior when allowed to move back outside to his more "natural" defensive end position.

So far, it hasn't happened and that fact is leading some NFL teams to switch their projection from defensive end back to defensive tackle.

"Look, I'm not saying he can't play outside," one high-ranking team official told me recently. "But he isn't a quick-twitch pass rusher and why would you invest that type of draft pick into a left defensive end? You wouldn't. Many 4-3 teams are going to eventually move him inside to defensive tackle. He can give you a pass rush there and is so big and strong, he'll be fine against the run."

Coples certainly is big and strong. Rated by some scouts as the elite senior talent in the entire country heading into this season, the 6-5, 278 pound All-ACC pick is viewed as a prospect who could get even bigger in the pros.

"He's got a long, lean, naturally powerful frame. He could add another 10-15 pounds without a significant loss in speed," said a scout representing another 4-3 team also speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Coples, a defensive end before moving inside last year to help a Tar Heels squad reeling from suspensions and injuries, enjoyed a breakout junior season in which he racked up 59 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. So far this season, he's struggled to make plays from the outside. He generally has played at left defensive end (against the right tackle), but was switched back and forth between left and right defensive end in this past weekend's game versus Virginia. The results weren't statistically impressive. Coples registered just three tackles against the Cavaliers, two of which were assists. He did also register three QB pressures.
Over the first three games of the season, Coples has posted six total tackles (four solos). He has two tackles for loss (both sacks) on the year, though they both came against James Madison in a 42-10 season-opening rout at home.

I touched upon Coples' recent struggles in my Big Board, where the North Carolina defender has slowly -- but steadily -- dropped from No. 2 in my rankings of potential 2012 draft prospects to his current No. 5. Coples is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 rated overall prospect for the 2012 draft. He's rated behind only Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

I see some similarities in Coples' game to that of another former ACC star who has gone on to enjoy significant success in the NFL -- Arizona Cardinals' defensive end Darnell Dockett (who played his collegiate ball at Florida State). Though he projects nicely inside for a four-man front, like the 6-4, 290 pound Dockett, Coples could be also be a star as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.

Fewer and fewer, however, believe he'll be able to make as significant of an impact playing outside in the 4-3 against NFL speed.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 12:41 pm
 

Ineliigible at OSU means Pryor eligible for Supp.

Any doubt as to whether former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor would be deemed eligibile for an NFL supplemental draft this summer likely was erased yesterday when Pryor's lawyer received a letter from Buckeye Athletic Director Gene Smith notifying their former star that he would have been found ineligible for the 2011 season.

With Pryor ineligible for next season, he fulfills the technicality the NFL needed to allow him into their special-case draft. Previously, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello had told Alex Marvex of FoxSports.com that Pryor, (like any player) was only eligible for the draft if their situation had been affected by "unforeseen circumstances."

While some would argue that a long-term suspension from Ohio State could have easily been foreseen considering the myriad of rule violations Pryor is accused of, with the ruling coming today -- long after the January 15th deadline in which underclassmen had to declare for April's NFL draft -- the Buckeye signal-caller has indeed found his eligibility taken away between the normally scheduled draft and the supplemental. This, traditionally, has been the deciding factor in allowing a prospect into the supplemental draft.

In a typical year, the NFL's supplemental draft is held approximately ten days before the start of training camps, or roughly July 15. This year, due to the extended lockout and the higher priority of veteran free agency, signing of draft picks, etc. the supplemental draft has been placed on the "back burner."

At this point, there appears to be three players likely to be found eligible for the supplemental draft -- Georgia running back Caleb King, North Carolina defensive end Michael McAdoo and Pryor.

Posted on: January 17, 2011 2:43 pm
 

East-West Measuring Day provides some highlights

As you'd expect, with the East-West Shrine Game kicking off this weekend, NFLDraftScout.com is in Orlando to catch all of the action.

Senior Analyst Chad Reuter will be checking in with daily practice reports.

First, however, was this morning's weigh-in. A few notable results.

  • Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle measured in at 6-4 (6042) and 242 pounds. Opinions are mixed with Enderle, but scouts certainly like his frame.
  • Scouts knew that Fresno defensive end Chris Carter would have to make the transition to outside linebacker to be successful in the NFL, but it was reinforced Monday with Carter just barely breaking the 6-1 (6011) mark. Carter weighed in at 245.5 pounds. While the height may be a concern for some, Carter has much longer arms than most his height. His arm length (32 3/4") and wingspan (79 1/8") are comparable to prospects standing up to 6-5.
  • Two of my favorite Diamond in the Rough prospects measured in as scouts had hoped. Former highly touted prep prospect OJ Murdock, who left South Carolina and winded up at Fort Hays State measured in a shade under 5-11 5105) and 194.5 pounds. Murdock pops of tape and could prove one to watch this week as a receiver on the West team. On the East squad is Mount Union's Cecil Shorts, who measured in just under 6-0 at 5117 and a rock-solid 200 pounds. Shorts has often been compared to another former Mount Union standout -- Indianapolis Colts' starting wideout Pierre Garcon.
  • Former North Carolina Tar Heel defensive tackle Marvin Austin - who I highlighted yesterday as an All-star with everything on the line - measured in at 6-2 (6021), 312 pounds.
Chad will be covering much more in his Monday wrap-up article, including more observations from the weigh-in and the teams unique Monday practices.
As always, for the best in NFL draft coverage, check out NFLDraftScout.com .
Posted on: December 14, 2010 7:13 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2010 7:22 pm
 

UNC OLB Bruce Carter undergoes ACL surgery

North Carolina outside linebacker Bruce Carter underwent surgery Tuesday to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Carter, a Second Team All-ACC selection and finalist for the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker, injured his knee November 20 against North Carolina State. He was kept out of the Tar Heels' finale against Duke due to the knee injury, though news of the severity of his injury was kept quiet until now. Dr. Jeff Spang performed the operation at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

The injury casts a considerable shadow over Carter's pro stock. Rated among the elite senior prospects in the country heading into the season, Carter's best attribute is his jaw-dropping athleticism. The 6-3, 235 pound Carter has unofficially been credited with a 4.4 second running of the 40-yard dash, a 40.5" vertical jump and a 440 pound bench press. In fact, he was recognized by ESPN's Bruce Feldman as the No. 1 "Freak" in his annual Top 10 breakdown of college football's elite athletes.

The torn ACL, however, could rob Carter of that athleticism. It certainly will keep him from being able to work out for teams prior to the draft.

Carter, quite frankly, needed to wow in workouts because his play this season has been disappointing. Carter exploded onto the scene as a sophomore in 2008, recording 68 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five sacks and five blocked kicks. He wasn't able to match that production as a junior (65-7.5-2-0) and slipped even further in 2010 (57-3.5-2.5-1).

Without his breathtaking athleticism, Carter simply isn't nearly as highly thought of as a prospect. Despite his experience, Carter does not locate the football particularly well and is viewed by some scouts as simply a better athlete than football player, despite his hype. His less than ideal instincts were masked by his straight-line speed and explosiveness.

Unable to wow scouts in workouts, Carter could see his stock slide into the third round, or even lower. This, despite the fact that he's been rated at or near the top of the senior outside linebacker rankings all year long.

Consider that two other highly touted OLB prospects of recent years -- Clemson's Ricky Sapp and Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield -- dropped into the fifth and fourth rounds, respectively, due to knee concerns. Sapp, drafted last year by Philadelphia, was placed on IR before the season began. Schofield, drafted by Arizona, has registered seven tackles this season.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.




Posted on: October 11, 2010 1:07 pm
 

Ineligible Little worse off than suspended Austin

The University of North Carolina Tar Heel football program received a huge blow Monday morning with the news that All-ACC defensive tackle Marvin Austin had been kicked off the team and that defensive end Robert Quinn and wide receiver Greg Little were each "permanently suspended."

Considering that the trio had missed all five games to start the season, the news wasn't completely unexpected. However, those close to the NCAA program had held out hope that each would get onto the field at some point this season. Now it appears unlikely that any of them will ever play another snap of college football.

Their unavailability has led to a disappointing 3-2 start to the season in Chapel Hill after being pronounced a darkhorse NCAA title contender by some over the summer.

And to be sure, it wasn't just the distraction of the investigation into these and other UNC players that led to the Tar Heels' poor start. Austin, Quinn and Little were the Tar Heels three best players. Each was considered a potential first round pick, with Austin and Quinn earning potential top ten grades.

At first glance, Austin's being kicked off the team entirely would seem likelier to adversely affect his potential NFL draft stock than the suspensions penalties handed down for Quinn and Little.

That isn't necessarily the case, however, at least according to a few high-ranking NFL sources.

Unlike Austin and Little, who are each seniors, Quinn is a junior and thus is potentially eligible to return to the collegiate field next year. Though Quinn, like Little, was "permanently suspended" by the NCAA, with an extra year he has the time to appeal the ruling should he be so inclined.

Whether Quinn attempts to play college football again is another question. He certainly looked like a future high first round pick as a sophomore, finishing second to Georgia Tech first round (Tennessee) defensive end Derrick Morgan in the voting for the ACC Defensive Player of the Year after notching 52 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. His tape is so good, in fact, Quinn would "surely" make the first round in this upcoming draft, I'm told, assuming he clears NFL questions at the Combine.

Being kicked off the team entirely, Austin finds himself in a similar situation to former Oklahoma State wideout Dez Bryant last year. Bryant played well in three games last year prior to being suspended for the rest of the 2010 season and was an All-American in 2009. Austin, of course, hasn't played this year, but earned Second-Team All-ACC honors as a junior. Bryant received less than stellar reviews from Oklahoma State coaches following his suspension. Austin is likely to get similar reviews from the UNC coaching staff when interviewed by NFL scouts. 

Nonetheless, Bryant's film, pre-draft workouts and his answers to NFL decision-makers questions were sincere enough, apparently, that the Cowboys drafted him in the first round. While Austin no doubt would rather be playing alongside his former UNC teammates, with months to prepare for the Combine workouts and interviews, strong tape and the value of quality defensive linemen as high as ever, the former Second Team All-ACC pick still has a good shot at making the first round.

Much of the fallout regarding this morning's news will center upon North Carolina's defensive linemen, but the greater impact -- at least in terms of draft day -- may be felt by Little. A former running back, Little flashed spectacular body control and hands in his first full season at wide receiver last year, leading the team with 62 receptions for 724 yards and five touchdowns. The strong play of former UNC receivers Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate in the NFL this season only seem to heighten Little's intrigue to scouts.

That said, Little appeared last year to be far from a finished product. Scouts can hope that he made strides over the off-season, but with no tape on him this year to prove it, teams will have a hard time believing he could make an immediate impact in the NFL. That likely means he drops out of the top two rounds and with the expected influx of junior receivers A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Jon Baldwin and several others, Little -- despite real talent and an ideal NFL frame (6-2, 214) could struggle to recoup his falling stock.  


Posted on: September 1, 2010 8:27 pm
 

Impact of suspension on Austin's draft stock

Dez Bryant proved last year that a player could get suspended for the entire season and yet still remain a first round pick.

North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin hasn't been suspended for the year. But, even if he was, he's talented enough -- and defensive tackle is a valuable enough position -- that he could pull off a similar feat.

As it stands now, is important to note that while Austin's suspension was characterized as "indefinite," to this point UNC has only publicly committed to keeping him out against this weekend's opener at LSU.

"This decision is not a result of the ongoing NCAA review, " says Davis. "Marvin has violated team rules and has neglected his responsibilities to the team."

Whatever Austin did to draw the ire of Davis (perhaps posting on his Facebook? ), it may not be close to the amount of trouble he's already in with the NCAA.

Austin, of course, and his teammate, wide receiver Greg Little, are widely believed to be at the center of the NCAA's investigation into college football players receiving improper benefits from sports agents.

Austin considered entering the draft last year. He finished the 2009 season with 42 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks. He earned Second-Team All-ACC honors despite only starting 11 of 13 games for the Tar Heels. Austin features rare burst for a 6-3, 310 pounder. Had he left last year, he could have made the first round despite the fact that scouts thought he played with inconsistent effort. His grade, according to scouts last January, was very similar to the one given to former UCLA star Brian Price.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Price with the third pick of the second round (No. 35 overall) last April.

On film, Austin is arguably the top three-technique senior prospect in the country and well worth a first round grade.

Regardless of how long his suspension(s) ultimately last, Austin will have to answer some tough questions by NFL teams. If his answers are sincere enough, his upside is likely enough to persuade some NFL team he's worth a pick in the top 32.





Posted on: August 21, 2010 11:05 pm
 

UNC's Bruce Carter: Quinn "is a freak of nature"

I learned a long time ago that players are often the best scouts. Who knows better than they how good another player really is?

I'll give you an example. Two years ago I spoke to former Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher about some of the unheralded prospects on the Rebels' squad. He told me safety Jamarca Sanford would surprise in the NFL and that a smallish running back named Dexter McCluster was going to "shock the world" in 2009.

Sanford, the 231st pick in the 2009 draft, played in 14 games for the Minnesota Vikings as a rookie and even started Week Four against Dallas. He finished with 29 tackles and a forced fumble on the year.

McCluster rushed for 1,169 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 44 passes for another 520 yards and three scores in earning All-SEC honors. He is the first player in the long and storied history of the SEC to have rushed for over 1,000 yards and caught passes for over 500 yards in one season.

Clearly, Oher knew what he was talking about with these two players.

With this in mind, I asked North Carolina outside linebacker Bruce Carter to break down some of his highly regarded teammates during a phone interview yesterday. Carter, our top-rated outside linebacker prospect for the 2011 draft, will be featured in an article I wrote as part of NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's preview of the ACC.

The following is Bruce's thoughts, along with NFLDraftScout.com's current grade for each player.

Marvin Austin is our top-rated North Carolina prospect. The defensive tackle is our No. 2 rated player at the position and the 4th best senior prospect overall. Says Carter: "Marvin is a guy who likes to talk trash. He's very explosive. He's a great competitor."

Greg Little is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior wide receiver and the No. 31 overall senior prospect for the 2011 draft.
Says Carter: "He [Little] is a great athlete and so big for a receiver. He's explosive coming off the line and going up to get the ball. He's got great hands."

Quan Sturdivant , who has seen action at inside and outside linebacker, is currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 2 ILB and No. 41 overall. Says Carter: "Quan is an instinctive linebacker. He's got a great head for sniffing out screens and draws."

Deunta Williams is our top-rated free safety and currently ranks as the No. 38 senior prospect overall.
Says Carter: "Deunta Williams is a great communicator who makes sure we're all lined up correctly. He's a great athlete too."

Kendric Burney has started all 38 games of his career at cornerback for UNC and earned First Team All-ACC honors last year with five interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. Still, despite his consistency and production, I believe he's being one of the more underrated cornerback prospects for the NFL simply because he's only 5-09. He's currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 rated senior cornerback and viewed as a 2nd-3rd round prospect. I characterized him as "underrated" to Bruce, who didn't agree.
Says Bruce: "I don't know that he's underrated. He's a lockdown corner in my mind and gets the credit [First-Team All-ACC] he deserves for doing such a great job. He's got great versatility and can really jump high to make the big play."

Charles Brown doesn't get the attention that Burney has earned, but as our No. 15 rated senior cornerback, is certainly on our radar. Carter thinks we should have him rated higher.
Says Bruce: "He's a lockdown corner too, but he doesn't get the attention he deserves just yet. He's good, though, and will be getting more attention soon."

Perhaps Carter's most interesting comments were reserved for junior defensive end Robert Quinn . NFLDraftScout.com typically does not comment on the NFL potential of underclassmen, but in the case of Quinn -- who is already drawing comparisons from NFL scouts to former Tar Heel great Julius Peppers, acknowledging his talent is easy. Quinn, who finished second last year in the ACC Defensive Player of the Year voting as a true sophomore with 19 tackles for loss and 15 sacks, looks like a potential top ten prospect.
Says Carter: "Man, Rob[ert] is just a monster. Everybody knows he's a freak of nature. He does such a great job of rushing the passer that people don't always recognize that he plays the run well too. He does a great job. "



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com