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Heel Tough Blog: Pre-Senior Bowl Draft Rankings

The NFL Draft process officially got underway on Saturday with the playing of the annual East-West Shrine Bowl from St. Petersburg, FL and the NFLPA Bowl from Los Angeles. The close of the NFL Draft entry period on Monday means it’s time to take a look at the Tar Heel prospects and where they stack up on the big boards as we head into Senior Bowl week. Let’s take a look at where the major draft site have the former Tar Heels ranked on the draft board prior to the most prestigious NFL Draft bowl game.

Andy Mead- ISI Photos

S Myles Dorn

The Draft Network: 4th Round, No. 10 S

CBS Sports: 5th-6th Round, No. 16 S 4th-6th Round, No. 22 S Undrafted, No. 19 S 4th Round, No. 10 S No. 20 S

Dorn seems to be the player that many experts think will go the highest in this upcoming draft and for good reason. His ability to succeed both in-the-box and in deep coverage scenarios makes him an attractive option, as does his football intelligence that allows him to be aggressive while not getting out of position. The major concern with Dorn from many scouts is his speed, something that was an issue at times this season against receivers with top end speed when they had him beat. There’s a lot to like about Dorn’s game, though, and after his week at the East-West Shrine Game, it’s easy to see why he is seen as a solid day three selection right now.

Jeremy Brevard- USA Today Sports

OT Charlie Heck

The Draft Network: 4th-5th Round, No. 12 OT

CBS Sports: 5th-6th Round, No. 35 OL 4th-6th Round, No. 22 OT Undrafted 6th Round, No. 20 OT No. 16 OT

Heck seems like a player that is solidly on most NFL teams radars, as most sites see him as a solid day three selection. The scouts like what they’ve seen from him as a pass protector and like the fact that he is able to be used in pull blocking situations, but do question how he handles pass rushers that thrive with pass rushing moves and his overall strength. Heck has a chance to address some of those concerns and maybe climb some boards this week in Mobile.

Neil Redmond- USA Today Sports

DL Jason Strowbridge

The Draft Network: 4th Round, No. 11 IDL

CBS Sports: 6th-7th Round, No. 18 DL 5th-7th Round, No. 16 3-4 DE Undrafted, No. 20 DL3T Undrafted No. 12 DE

Strowbridge is seen as a late day three selection by many despite playing out of position for most of his time at the college level. Most scouts like the bend that he plays with in pass rushing situations and like what he’s able to bring as a run defender, as well. The biggest criticism that seems to be coming up is the fact that he struggles against stronger guards and centers, but the fact that he will likely play more defensive end that will match him up against tackles and give him leverage on the guards he does face should help him. Amongst a loaded group of defensive linemen at the Senior Bowl, he will have a chance to make a major impression. 

Jeremy Brevard- USA Today Sports

DT Aaron Crawford

The Draft Network: Undrafted

CBS Sports: Undrafted Undrafted Undrafted Undrafted Unranked

For some reason, there is absolutely no love for the player who graded out as the best interior run defender in college football by pro football focus this past year. Crawford might not be the perfect definition of a space eating nose tackle, but he’s able to cover both gaps as well as you could hope he would in his one season as a true nose tackle. While he can be washed out of plays at times, it almost always takes a double team to do so, something that can be looked at as a positive with it allowing for fellow defensive linemen to work 1-on-1 matchups. Crawford is as good as they get amongst nose tackles at getting after the quarterback, something that would allow him to be used on third downs if he can sign with a team.  That shouldn’t be an issue and teams better get prepared for him to try and make a 53-man roster.

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OG Nick Polino

The Draft Network: Undrafted

CBS Sports: Undrafted Undrafted Undrafted Undrafted Unranked

Heading into his senior season, Polino may have been on some NFL radars, but after his injury cost him his starting role along the offensive line, he seems to be firmly off most of them. Polino brings flexibility having played both guard and center at a high level, but he struggles to contain stronger and quicker interior defensive linemen. Right now, it looks as if Polino will struggle to make an NFL roster even in preseason.

Andy Mead- ISI Photos

LB Dominique Ross

The Draft Network: Undrafted

CBS Sports: Undrafted Undrafted Undrafted Undrafted No. 56 OLB

Ross hasn’t received much love from the scouts, but his senior year makes him at least worth noting. He showed this past season that his a strong coverage linebacker and while he may be a bit undersized, he has the ability to work downhill and make tackles in open space. The size is a big issue for Ross and he isn’t nearly as sure of a tackler as you would like to see from an NFL Draft prospect. There is some upside here and an NFL team could take a chance on that.

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TE Brandon Fritts

The Draft Network: Undrafted

CBS Sports: Undrafted Undrafted Undrafted Undrafted No. 52 TE

Fritts was a late round NFL Draft target prior to last year, but after missing each of the last two seasons with knee injuries, his stock has suffered. If teams can’t get past the injuries, there are attributes there that could allow him to contribute to an NFL team. He has the ability to high point the football and thrived in the red zone before the injuries. Will teams be able to get past the fact that he hasn’t played in a game in over two seasons, though, is the question.

RB Antonio Williams

The Draft Network: Undrafted

CBS Sports: Undrafted Undrafted No. 29 RB Undrafted No. 69 RB

Williams role was limited this past season due to the success of both Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, but he showed late in the season why he still has a chance to make an NFL roster in the summer. His decisive running style and strong ball carrier vision make him attractive to the NFL game where downhill running is important. His burst improved in his time at Carolina. and his speed is not as big of a liability as it may have been earlier in his career. Williams is highly unlikely to be drafted, but the talent and determination give him a chance to make a training camp roster.

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