The road to the NFL Draft began not long after the college season ended for many Tar Heel football players, but only seven of them will have the opportunity to show their progress on the big stage at this year’s NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis.
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky–widely expected to be among the first players selected in the draft–headlines a group that includes Elijah Hood and TJ Logan, his top two running backs, and three of his wide receivers: Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard and Mack Hollins.
Defensive tackle Nazair Jones was the only player from the Tar Heel defense invited to the combine this season.
Trubisky, Hood and Jones each decided to skip their final year of college eligibility to enter the professional ranks.
Despite only starting for one year, Trubisky broke the single season school records for passing yards (3,748), touchdowns (30) and total offense (4,056).
Hood, meanwhile, has been the Tar Heels’ top rusher for the last two seasons. The Charlotte native posted the second highest single season rushing mark in UNC history as a sophomore in 2015 when he rumbled for 1,453 yards and 17 touchdowns during the team’s 11-win campaign.
Although the UNC defense saw its fair share of struggles this season, Jones provided a steadying force up front. He racked up 70 tackles and led the team with 9.5 tackles for a loss.
Of the Tar Heel seniors headed to Indy, perhaps none had more of an impact throughout their time in Chapel Hill than Switzer–the speedy wide receiver who made his name early on as a punt returner.
By the end of his career, Switzer set school records for receptions (244) and receiving yards (2,907), while setting the all-time ACC mark for punt return touchdowns (seven).
Howard and Hollins each possess prototypical NFL size, with their 6-foot-5-inch frames, and have spent the last four years displaying all the skill needed to succeed as deep threats at the next level.
When Hollins went down with a broken collarbone midway through the 2016 season, Howard filled into his role seamlessly–even going so far as to switch from No. 84 to Hollins’ No. 13 for some of the team’s late season games.
Despite serving as a backup to Hood for much of the last two seasons, Logan has shown he has the blinding speed needed to outrun the much-faster NFL defenses.
UNC’s all-time leader in kick return touchdowns with four, he can also provide teams with versatility on special teams in addition to his skills as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield.
The NFL Draft Combine will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium–the home of the Indianapolis Colts–and will run from Feb. 28 through March 6.