Monday, April 30, 2012

Did program's disarray cost Tar Heels in NFL draft?

The NFL draft concluded on Saturday after only two of North Carolina’s prospects – defensive end Quinton Coples and linebacker Zach Brown – were selected. Dwight Jones, the wide receiver, ended the draft on the outside looking in. So, too, did cornerback Charles Brown. And defensive tackle Tydreke Powell. And Donte Paige-Moss, the defensive lineman who left school early to enter the draft.

Even Coples and Brown went lower than they likely expected they would – Coples at No. 16 overall to the New York Jets, and Brown in the second round, at the 52nd overall pick, to the Tennessee Titans. If you followed the draft at all, you know that NFL personnel types shared similar concerns about Coples and Brown, both. In fact, you could have learned that simply by reading the NFL’s official website. broke down just about every player, anywhere, who had the potential to be selected in the draft. The profiles included an overview and a paragraph of strengths and weaknesses for each player. How strange is it that for both Coples and Brown, the word “disappear” showed up under both players’ listed weaknesses?

For Coples, the first couple sentences explaining his weaknesses read like this: “Coples' motor was the only question mark throughout his collegiate career. At times, he disappeared from the action.”

For Brown, the first couple sentences explaining his weaknesses read like this: “Despite his talent, there are questions surrounding other aspects of Brown's game and life. He has shown a tendency to disappear for long stretches.”

Both players possessed first-round talent. And at one time, Coples was projected as a top-10 selection. But neither Coples nor Brown went as high as their ability suggested they could – or should – have gone.

Questions about each player’s motivation and consistency helped to push them down in the draft. Both players had their share of dominant games during their years with the Tar Heels. But those games were mixed in among others in which they took plays off or disappeared for long stretches.

It’s not a reach to suggest that UNC’s coaching transition didn’t help Coples and Brown. Amid all the uncertainty that surrounded the Tar Heels in 2011, it makes sense that players might not have been as motivated after Everett Withers took over on an interim basis for the fired Butch Davis. On a deeper level, though, the slide of Coples and Brown in the draft could be evidence of issues that might have plagued the program under Davis. Coples and Brown didn’t learn to take plays off until their final seasons, of course. They learned the habits that cost them positioning in the draft under Davis’ watch.

And what does it say, too, that none of UNC’s other draftable players were drafted? Jones, the receiver who caught 85 passes for nearly 1,200 yards, was once seen as a likely second- or third-round pick. Yet he fell completely out of the draft. Paige-Moss, a talented but inconsistent player who left school early, never heard his name called. Ditto for Brown and Powell.

Some of UNC’s undrafted players have already signed as free agents with various teams. The list:

WR Dwight Jones – Houston Texans

C Cameron Holland – Kansas City Chiefs

CB Charles Brown – Baltimore Ravens

S Matt Merletti – Indianapolis Colts

DT Tydreke Powell – Minnesota Vikings

But the lack of Tar Heels’ draftees speaks to a program that had been in disarray for a long time. It can’t be argued that some of UNC’s undrafted players are as talented as many of those drafted in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds on Saturday.

NFL teams, though, like prospects who come from respected and reputable college programs. And sure, if teams thought that UNC’s former players were good enough to be drafted, they would have been. But the instability that hung over the Tar Heels for two seasons didn’t help. And that likely cost the Tar Heels on draft day.

-- Andrew Carter


Anonymous said...

heels always with the excuses....

the players went right about where they should have.

Anonymous said...

What a ridiculous sentiment. You really think that NFL teams care what is going on with the program from which the player is coming from? Much less if they have a coaching change, or "disarray?" NFL teams could care less about that stuff.

The simple question they all ask is this: "Can this guy contribute at the NFL level." That's it. It goes both ways too. Kellen Moore one of the more spectacular college careers you will ever see. He went 53-3 as a starter. He came from a highly regarded program (while not elite for years, very respectable lately) with a very stable coaching staff. There was no disarray surrounding him. And yet, he still went undrafted. The reason? Because NFL guys don't care what you accomplished or what kind of shape your program was in. They judged that he wasn't worth a draft pick based on his talent and ability.

The same thing happened in this case. These guys were talented, high rated kids coming out of high school, who got terrible coaching and leadership from their staff. They were not developed, they lived off of their hype, and were judged to be sub-par NFL talents. Not to mention the attitudes, work ethics and personal baggage that most of them possess.

So go ahead, keep making excuses for these players. The fact is, they just didn't have what it takes.

Anonymous said...

You need to have your head examined. You don't think Dwight Jones can contribute? He may be a bonehead but he had senior season that was very similar statistically to that of Hakeem Nicks. Last I checked, Hakeem was a pretty productive receiver in the league.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, why do you think there was instability in the program? I will tell you why. Butch let the inmates run the asylum. He let the stars do whatever they wanted to do and that included taking plays off and doing things off the field that would make a sailor blush. NFL teams don't want to use a pick on a lazy player much less a lazy and crazy player(hello DPM!!)

Anonymous said...

Only the Tarcheat Observer would whine that their floundering program cost their precious players spots in the draft.

Anonymous said...


Charlanta said...

Some of these guys could end up being diamonds in the rough as they got lost in the transition. Of course, they could also end up on the cutting room floor if they don't have the drive...we shall all see.

Bill Brown said...

I'm not quite sure where some other posters are coming from. I certainly didn't see this original post as offering excuses for the (North) Carolina football program nor did I see any suggestion that NFL teams evaluate programs before making draft selections.

What Andrew said is the players were hurt in the draft because of bad habits the UNC coaching staff allowed them to develop. That isn't excusing anyone; that is an indictment of the Tar Heel football program.

Anonymous said...

Love all the comments from the Tar Heel haters. Your inferiority complex is showing.

Oh and Bill Brown, stop making sense!

Anonymous said...

UNC Football: Less with more for 32 years running!

Anonymous said...

NC State had 5 players drafted, 6 players that O'Brien recruited and signed if you count Russell Wilson.

And only one of them was a 4-star prospect coming out of high school, the all were lower.

Keep that stat in mind Tar Heels fans, the next time the Pack beat you on the field, and your only retort is how good your recruiting classes are going to be LOL.

Anonymous said...

Dook owns Heels in basketball (won 5 of the last 7, 20 of past 30) and doesn't cheat.

Pack own Heels in football (5-0) and don't cheat.

Well...uh...there's always women's soccer!!! You don't cheat there too, do you?

online bookmakers said...

I completely agree with the guy or girl who commented in the first place here, it's not the first time that Tar Heels come and says lot of excuses