The NFL Draft will take place next week in Cleveland as the league returns to an on-site show following last year’s pandemic-necessitated remote draft.
While we may not get to see shots of Kliff Kingsbury’s mansion or Dave Gettleman’s odd attic office, there are still plenty of reasons to watch, especially here in North Carolina, where a pair of local college teams have a chance to send a large contingent of players to the league in the early rounds.
In total, more than two dozen players with connections to the state are holding out hope that they’ll hear their names called over the three-day event. Here’s a roundup of the top North Carolina prospects, in descending order of their prospect ranking on NFL.com.
Landon Dickerson, Alabama center
The Hickory product rates a 6.42, meaning he’s projected to be an NFL starter in two years. He’s coming off of ACL surgery, which gives him more variability in mock draft projections. He’s slotted as high as late first round and as low as late third.
Javonte Williams, UNC running back
The highest-rated of the Tar Heels’ large stable of skill players entering this year’s draft, he rates a 6.40. With a combination of power and speed, he’s considered the second-best back in the draft, behind Alabama’s Najee Harris. Most mocks have him going in round two.
Chris Rumph, Duke edge rusher
The Blue Devils don’t find themselves sending players to the NFL in the early rounds too often, but Rumph could give Duke its second pick in three years. While he won’t go in the top 10 like Daniel Jones did, at a 6.31 rating, Rumph will get a call, likely in the middle rounds.
Carlos Basham, Wake Forest defensive end
“Boogie” is rated slightly behind Rumph, at 6.29, but could go as high as mid-first round.
Divine Deablo, Virginia Tech defensive back
The Winston-Salem product is rated 6.23 and helped his cause with a fine Senior Bowl week performance. He’s looking at a possible third-round selection.
Michael Carter, UNC running back
The other half of the Tar Heels’ two-back attack is rated a 6.21 and could go in the third round.
Cornell Powell, Clemson wide receiver
The Greenville product is also rated 6.21. He had two catches for 42 yards in the Senior Bowl and impressed during drills. The latest mocks have him going in round four.
Dyami Brown, UNC wide receiver
At 6.19, he’s just a tick below the rating given to teammate Michael Carter, although the latest seven-round mock draft from CBSSports.com has him going a few spots higher in the third round.
Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State defensive back
The Concord product battled injury all year but returned to the field for Senior Bowl practices to show he was healthy. At 6.19, he’s expected to go early in the fourth.
Alim McNeill, NC State defensive tackle
A logjam of in-state products clustered around the 6.1 to 6.3 rating window means fans should be sure to tune in for the third and fourth rounds. At 6.14, McNeill is slotted for late third.
Chazz Surratt, UNC linebacker
The Tar Heels’ quarterback-turned-linebacker had a nose for the ball and the big play, which could have him leading the state’s third-round parade to the podium. He’s rated at 6.14.
Larry Rountree III, Missouri running back
The Raleigh product has a 6.10 rating. He could be a last-day pick, however, getting mocked in the sixth round.
Shemar Jean-Charles, Appalachian State cornerback
After getting a dozen prospects into the list, we dip below the 6.0 rating. The App defensive back is at 5.94, meaning he’s slotted as a possible backup or special teamer. He’s got a mid-sixth round mock.
Victor Dimukeje, Duke edge rusher
The Blue Devils other pass-rushing force, Dimukeje has a rating of 5.94 and is mocked to the end of the seventh round.
Michael Carter II, Duke cornerback
The “other” Michael Carter from the state in this year’s draft. Carter may not hear his name called but could get a shot as a free agent pickup.
D’Ante Smith, East Carolina offensive tackle
Proof that ratings aren’t everything. At 5.93, he’s just behind the state’s first projected undrafted player, but he’s mocked to the fourth round.
Bryan Mills, NC Central cornerback. 5.89 rating, undrafted in latest mocks; Noah Gray, Duke tight end. 5.87, final 10 picks of seventh round; Sage Surratt, Wake Forest wide receiver. 5.86, sixth round; Deon Jackson, Duke running back. 5.84, undrafted; Dazz Newsome, UNC receiver. 5.80, sixth round; Jamie Newman, Wake Forest quarterback. 5.80, fifth round; Mac McCain III, N.C. A&T cornerback. 5.65, undrafted; Cary Angeline, NC State tight end. 5.60, undrafted; Blake Proehl, East Carolina receiver. 5.54, undrafted; Mark Gilbert, Duke cornerback. 5.48, undrafted.