North Carolina was well represented in last weekend’s NFL Draft. One out of every 14 players drafted — 18 of 259 — either played high school or college football in the state. Another 13 have already signed with NFL teams as undrafted free agents after not getting selected.
Duke had four players selected, the most for the Blue Devils since 1973. UNC had five, its most since 2017. ECU had a player taken for the first time since 2017. NC State (six straight years), Wake Forest (five) and Appalachian State (two) also continued streaks of having a player chosen in the draft.
North Carolina running back Javonte Williams was the first player with local connections to get the call, going in the second round, No. 35 overall, to the Broncos. GM George Paton called Williams “one of our favorite players in the draft.” Coach Vic Fangio agreed, saying, “He was a guy that was pretty unanimous in the building there. Coaches, scouts — everybody that took a look at the guy liked him.”
He’ll team with starter Melvin Gordon to create a tandem attack. “I have always been a fan of his, so coming in and picking stuff from his game will be a huge start for me,” Williams said.
Hickory’s Landon Dickerson was the next local player off the board. The Alabama center, recovering from ACL surgery, was taken early in the second round, 37th overall, by the Eagles. Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman said the knee injury was the only reason the team was able to land Dickerson, telling the media he didn’t “think that there was any chance” Dickerson would have still been available if other teams weren’t concerned about his medical history.
“I think you understand there’s risk-reward in it,” he said. “I think we rely on our medical staff to figure out the best way to handle these.” He’ll get the chance to beat out starting center Jason Kelce this year.
Carlos Basham was the third local player taken in round two. The Wake Forest edge rusher will bring the “Boogie” to Buffalo after the Bills took him No. 29 in the second round, 61st overall.
Round three saw a quartet of locals get drafted.
NC State defensive tackle Alim McNeill led the way going eighth in the round, No. 72 overall, to Detroit. UNC linebacker Chazz Surratt went 78th overall when the Vikings took him. Winston-Salem’s Divine Deablo, who played defensive back at Virginia Tech, was the 80th overall by the Raiders. Dyami Brown closed out the third round for the state when the North Carolina wide receiver went 82nd overall to the Washington Football Team.
The fourth round saw three more local products selected.
Michael Carter, the other half of UNC’s running back by committee, went with the round’s second pick, 107th overall, to the Jets. Duke edge rusher Chris Rumph was taken 118th overall by the Chargers, East Carolina offensive tackle D’Ante Smith went with the compensatory picks at the end of the round, No. 34 in the fourth and 139th overall, when the Bengals chose him.
Four of the picks in round five hailed from North Carolina, either by hometown or college.
The Jets decided to corner the market on Michael Carters, taking the Duke corner a round after taking the UNC running back. This Carter went 154th overall. Teammate Noah Gray became the third Blue Devil drafted when the Chiefs took the tight end with pick 162nd pick. App State saw a player selected when corner Shemar Jean-Charles went to the Packers with a compensatory pick, No. 34 in the fifth, 178th overall. The compensatory picks also gave Greenville’s Cornell Powell a chance to go in the fifth. The Clemson wide receiver went to the Chiefs at 181st overall.
Four more players from the area went in round six before the state was shut out in the seventh round.
Two North Carolina natives went first, with Concord’s Hamsah Nasirildeen, a defensive back from FSU, going to the Jets at No. 186 and Raleigh running back Larry Rountree III, late of Missouri, to the Chargers at 198th overall.
A fourth Blue Devil was drafted when the Cardinals took edge rusher Victor Dimukeje with the 210th pick, and a fifth Tar Heel went off the board when the Bears tapped receiver Dazz Newsome at 221nd overall.
Here are the undrafted free agents from local schools also signed with teams:
Duke: Mark Gilbert, CB (Steelers); Devery Hamilton, OL (Raiders); Deon Jackson, RB (Colts); NC State: Cary Angeline, TE (Cardinals); Joe Sculthorpe, OL (Falcons); Wake Forest: Jamie Newman, QB (Eagles); Sage Surratt, WR (Lions); Charlotte: Ben DeLuca, QB (Chargers); Tre Harbison, RB (Browns); Romeo McKnight, DE (Browns); NC Central: Bryan Mills, CB (Seahawks); NC A&T: Mac McCain III, CB (Broncos); East Carolina: Blake Proehl, WR (Vikings).