The 2016 NFL draft has come and gone and with it we find ourselves asking, where are all the ACC players at? Specifically, the North Carolina Tar Heels have gone meticulously missing in two consecutive NFL drafts, failing to have a player selected in the seven-round draft. Its surprising to find a team that capped an 11-3 season last year as the Atlantic-Coastal Conference Champions go without any players selected in the draft. With the young talent comprising the Tar Heels upcoming season roster, look for this drought to surly come to and end next year.
Senior Guard Landon Turner was the most high-profile North Carolina player to declare for this years NFL draft. Turner earned first-team All-American honors for his play during his senior season for the Tar Heels and was projected to be a mid-to-late round draft pick before the draft but, somehow surprisingly, fell out of favor and went undrafted. Shortly after the conclusion of the 2016 draft, Turner found himself as one of the most coveted free agents remaining and quickly signed with the New Orleans Saints. Although the Tar Heels found no player drafted in this years NFL draft, they did see six players sign free agent contracts with different teams around the league.
Turner will be joined in New Orleans by teammate and senior linebacker Jeff Schoettmer, who also managed to ink a deal with the team shortly after the draft concluded. Shakeel Rashad, who lined up next to Schoettmer, became the third player to sign with a team after failing to be selected in the draft. He will be signing with the Houston Texans and have the opportunity to offer depth to what will likely be a stacked Texans defense next season.
It was then that the carousel kept on rolling when it was announced that Senior wide receiver Quinshad Davis had signed with the Detroit Lions after having caught more touchdowns in his time at Carolina than anyone in program history. He will be lining up alongside tight end and former Tar Heel great Eric Ebron in Detroit. Senior running back Romar Morris followed as he found himself signing with the New York Jets.
The big name senior quarterback Marquise Williams was one of the most notable Tar Heels to ink a free agent deal as it was announced through twitter that he will be signing with the Minnesota Vikings. Carolina head coach Larry Fedora confirmed the signings and took notice by tweeting out his congrats when the news broke about Marquise. After having played sparingly in his first two seasons in Chapel Hill, Williams came into his own in the final two seasons of his memorable collegiate career. He accounted for 6,140 passing yards, 45 passing touchdowns, and 26 rushing touchdowns in the past two seasons of play for the Tar Heels.
While no Carolina players have been selected in the last two NFL draft, next year looks promising as the Tar Heels look to field another competitive team thanks to maturing young talent. It is likely that many younger impact players will opt to make the NFL leap next year and better the Tar Heels odds of having a draft selection. For now, we can rest easy knowing that six former Tar Heels will now have the opportunity to make an NFL season roster.