How NC hopefuls did at NFL Combine

NC State linebacker Payton Wilson runs the 40 at the NFL Combine. He’s projected to be a second or third-round pick. (AP)

The 2024 NFL Combine welcomed 16 athletes from North Carolina’s colleges and high schools. The biggest name–Drake Maye–didn’t  participate in drills. However, plenty of the state’s prospects hit the field to be evaluated on their chances of becoming a pro.

From Thursday to Sunday, former N.C. State linebacker Payton Wilson was one of the most impressive North Carolina prospects at the Combine. Wilson, projected to be a second or third round pick, ran the 40 in 4.43, the fastest of all linebackers.

Wilson’s 34.5-inch vertical and 9-foot, 11-inch broad jump were both top 10 LB performances.

Wilson’s 6.16 prospect grade indicates that he’s projected to be good backup with the potential to be a starter. His grade ranks fourth amongst linebackers who participated at the combine. With his performance over the weekend, he may have put himself in better position.

Other standouts included former UNC receiver Devontez Walker, who ran the fourth fastest 40 time amongst wide-outs (4.36). His 11-foot, 2-inch broad jump also ranked second in his position group. He was a top five vertical jumper (40.5 inches) amongst receivers. Walker has a prospect grade of 6.19 (potential to become a starter).

Malik Mustapha, former Wake Forest safety, achieved 22 reps on the bench press, the most in his position group.

Former Southern Durham standout and Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright ran the second best 40 time for running backs (4.38). His 6.28 prospect grade is the second highest for his position, which projects he will eventually become a starter.

As for former UNC linebacker Cedric Gray, his combine performance had its ups and downs. Although he only ran the 11th fastest 40 time for linebackers (4.64), Gray made up for it with his leaping ability.

Gray’s 35.5-inch vertical jump tied for fifth in his position group. He was one of six linebackers to hit 10 feet in the broad jump. However, his 17 bench press reps were the third-lowest for linebackers.

With a 6.00 prospect grade, Gray projects to be a day two guy and potential above-average backup.

On the defensive line, former Duke defensive tackle DeWayne Carter didn’t have the best numbers at the combine considering his 6.17 prospect grade (good backup with potential to be a starter). Carter ran the seventh-fastest 40 time out of the defensive tackles (4.99). He finished top three in his position for vertical jump with a height of 32 inches.

Defensive tackle Myles Murphy, of UNC, struggled, running the third slowest 40 time in his position group (5.20). He also found himself in the middle or near the bottom of the vertical jump, broad jump and 20-yard shuttle, which didn’t help his profile with a prospect grade of 5.80 (average backup or special teamer).

For the offensive linemen, N.C. State’s Dylan McMahon didn’t impress with his 5.10 40 time, but he recorded a top 10 vertical jump (33 inches) and a top five broad jump (9 feet, 7 inches) in his position group. He has one of the lowest prospect grades for his position (5.67).

Former Duke center Jacob Monk didn’t do too bad in his 40, running a time of 5.09. He was average in the jumping tests, recording 29.5 inches in the vertical jump and 9 feet in the broad jump. With a prospect grade of 5.89, he’s expected to be an average backup or special teamer.

Charlotte native and West Mecklenburg graduate Delmar Glaze threw up 29 bench press reps which was the seventh-most in his position group.- The former Maryland tackle didn’t do as well in the 40 or jump tests, though, finishing in the middle or near the bottom in the results for his position. With a prospect grade of 6.00, NFL scouts see that he has traits to be an above-average backup.

Sam Hartman, former Wake Forest quarterback who spent last season at Notre Dame, was one of the few quarterbacks to run the 40 (4.80), vertical jump (28.5 inches), broad jump (9 feet, 1 inch), three-cone drill (7.19 seconds) and the 20-yard shuttle (4.34 seconds).

Other players from North Carolina that participated in the combine but did not do the testing events included Graham Barton (Duke), Will Shipley (Weddington High School, Clemson) and Joshua Karty (Western Alamance High School, Stanford).