Landing spots for local NFL prospects in draft’s later rounds

Buffalo Bills third-round draft pick and former Duke Blue Devil DeWayne Carter addresses the media at his introductory press conference. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP Photo)

For most of the NFL prospects coming out of North Carolina’s college programs, the chance to play at the next level just had to wait a day or two.

Outside of UNC’s Drake Maye and Duke’s Graham Barton being selected in the first round, nine other players from North Carolina’s local colleges were drafted between rounds two and seven.

Former Duke defensive tackle DeWayne Carter was the first of the group to be selected on day two. The Buffalo Bills picked him late in the third round with the 95th pick. The first three-year captain in Duke football history will join a playoff-caliber team alongside a talented, yet aging defensive line that features Ed Oliver, 32-year-old DaQuan Jones and a 31-year-old DeShawn Williams. Although the Bills already have established starters at his position, Carter adds much needed depth to their defensive line.

Just three picks later, the Pittsburgh Steelers used their third round selection on former NC State linebacker Payton Wilson. Wilson’s drop in the draft came with a bit of surprise as he was projected to be one of the first linebackers selected as a second or early third round pick. His elite play in both the run and pass game was well received by pro scouts and analysts, however his lengthy injury history, including significant injuries to his shoulder and knee, likely contributed to his late selection.

In the fourth round, the Tennessee Titans took former UNC linebacker Cedric Gray off the board with the 106th pick. Gray was initially projected to be a late day two prospect, but he fits a need for the Titans and could find some early playing time at the inside linebacker position. Leading all of Power 5 in tackles (279) in the last two seasons, Gray is another versatile, athletic defender with strengths in the run game and in pass coverage.

The Baltimore Ravens selected Gray’s former college teammate, Devontez Walker, also in the fourth round with the 113th pick. Analysts weren’t always too high on his route running, however, Walker’s speed and ability to take the top off of defenses didn’t go unnoticed. He was one of three wide receivers in the 2024 combine to record a sub-4.4 40-yard dash and a 40-inch vertical. For a team that needs a deep-ball threat to take attention away from Lamar Jackson’s running ability, Walker could be a valuable asset for the Ravens.

Former Wake Forest safety Malik Mustapha was selected in the fourth round by the San Francisco 49ers at the 124th pick. Mustapha came off the board just about where he was expected to, joining a well-established defense that needed some depth in the safety position.

Former Duke center Jacob Monk got picked in the fifth round (163rd pick) by the Green Bay Packers. Monk will look to be another piece of the Packers’ updated offensive line as they used their first round pick on former Arizona offensive tackle Jordan Morgan.

The Dallas Cowboys grabbed former Wake Forest cornerback Caelen Carson in the same round at pick 174, adding a young, healthy asset to its cornerback depth chart. With the 190th pick in the sixth round, the Philadelphia Eagles took former NC State offensive guard Dylan McMahon, and in the seventh round, the Minnesota Vikings took center Michael Jurgens from Wake Forest.

Players from North Carolina high schools who left for college also heard their names called, including Tennessee RB Jaylen Wright (Southern Durham), drafted by Miami in the fourth round (120 overall). Clemson RB Will Shipley (Weddington), taken at 127 by Philadelphia, Maryland DT Delmar Glaze (West Mecklenburg) to Las Vegas in the third (77),

Here’s a rundown of where the undrafted local prospects have signed as of Sunday:

Myles Murphy (UNC, DE, Arizona Cardinals); Joe Shimko (NC State, LS, Arizona Cardinals); Julius Wood (East Carolina, S, Dallas Cowboys); Jason Calhoun (Duke, WR, Detroit Lions); Chelen Garnes (Wake Forest, S, Detroit Lions); Porter Wilson (Duke, P, Green Bay Packers); British Brooks (UNC, RB, Houston Texans); Trent Pennix (NC State, TE, Indianapolis Colts); David White Jr. (Western Carolina, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars); Andrew Parker Jr. (App State, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars); Tomari Fox (UNC, DL, Las Vegas Raiders); Amari Gainer (UNC, LB, Las Vegas Raiders); Tyler Smith (Western Carolina, OT, Los Angeles Chargers); Bucky Williams (App State, OL, Los Angeles Chargers); Savion Jackson (NC State, DE, Los Angeles Chargers); Robert Kennedy (NC State, CB, Los Angeles Chargers); Spencer Roland (UNC, OL, Minnesota Vikings); William Barnes (UNC, OL, New York Giants); Shyheim Battle (NC State, CB, New York Jets); Jake Roberts (Wake Forest, LB, Philadelphia Eagles); Julius Welschof (Charlotte, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers); Kameron Johnson (Barton College, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers); Tyrek Funderbirk (App State, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers); Don Chapman (UNC, S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers); Jordan Terrell (Barton College, RB, Tennessee Titans); Rob Gattison (Western Carolina, CB, Tennessee Titans); Brayden Narveson (NC State, K, Tennessee Titans); Eyabi Okie-Anoma (Charlotte, DL, Kansas City Chiefs)