UNC may never ascend to the top of the NCAA rankings, or even the ACC standings, but year after year they produce top NFL talent.
Tune in this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on NESNplus to see the Tar Heels (2-2) take on Idaho (0-4) at Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill. North Carolina has had a rough start to the season losing to their only real tests in Wake Forest and Louisville while beating their cupcake opponents Elon and East Carolina. You can chalk up another win for UNC against the Vandals on Saturday.
The Tar Heels have three senior players that could be first or second round picks in the 2013 draft, while Idaho has a few sleepers of their own. Here are your five players to watch:
#73 Brennan Williams, Right Tackle, North Carolina
The Easton, MA product has the most NFL-ready technique of any senior tackle prospect. Williams does a good job of bending at his knees for his 6-foot-8 frame and has really concentrated on his footwork in the offseason. Williams moves laterally very well for his size and kicks out against speed rushers like few others. Williams uses his great length to keep defensive linemen at bay, rarely letting a defender get too far inside. Williams struggles in space, and when he's asked to pull he whiffs on his defender just as often as he gets a good clean block. He looks quicker than fast and should be a first-round pick. Williams plays right tackle at North Carolina, but could play either tackle position in the pros. Williams attended Catholic Memorial High School and is the son of former Patriots and Seahawks defensive lineman Brent Williams.
#92 Sylvester Williams, Defensive Tackle, North Carolina
The other talented Williams from UNC is a little older than the rest of his 2013 prospect counterparts. He'll be almost 25 when he gets his first snap in the NFL due to working at a manufacturing company making radiator parts before continuing his football career at Coffeyville Community College. Williams has been at UNC the last two seasons and has a great motor, and flashes rare athleticism for his 6-foot-3 305 pound frame. Williams has a nice swim move that he uses to get into the opponent's backfield and holds his ground well against double teams in the middle of the UNC defense. He can play either DT position in a 4-3 and DE in a 3-4 and gets off the snap fast. He has a tendency to get his pad level a bit too high at times, and could struggle to anchor against the run if he can't fix that. Williams should be a second round pick in 2013.
Watch Williams in action in a clip below.
#64 Jonathan Cooper, Left Guard, North Carolina
Cooper should be one of the first interior linemen selected in the 2013 draft. He doesn't have elite size, listed at 6-foot-3 295-pounds, but he'll probably come in closer to 6-foot-2 at his pre-draft measurements. Cooper does a great job with his technique and moves extremely well on pull blocks keeping his body under control in space. He does a nice job getting under his defender and uses his arms well to keep them off balance. Cooper looks great moving back in pass blocking and gets very physical, which is something you don't see too often from Tar Heels prospects. Due to lack of perceived value for guards, Cooper will likely be a second round choice.
#48 Kevin Reddick, Linebacker, North Carolina
Reddick is a less impressive player than his draft-prospect teammates, but he does have elite athleticism that should still draw interest from NFL teams. Reddick isn't overly physical and has a tough time consistently fighting through blocks. When he can get a tackle or pressure the quarterback, it's usually done on pure speed and athleticism. Reddick doesn't flash great tackling technique, and looks lost at times in coverage. Reddick does flash nice instincts and finds himself around the ball often, but it's rarely behind the line of scrimmage. Reddick should be a fourth or fifth-round pick based on athleticism, but he'll need to get stronger and more physical to compete in the pros.
Watch Reddick in action in a clip below.
#8 Gary Walker, Safety, Idaho
Walker is the best draft prospect on the Vandals roster, but still may need to wait until the undrafted signing period to find a team. He has a nose for the ball, moves well laterally and has smooth hips when he has to turn and run with a wide receiver. Walker doesn't show great instincts and has a tendency to bite too often on play fakes. He's a bit undersized, but can play both safety positions and lines up at corner at times at Idaho.