Sam Howell is the name that will take all of the headlines from this weekend’s Tar Heel NFL declarations, but on Sunday night the Tar Heels found out that one of their starting guards from this season will be heading to the draft, as well.
Just a short time ago, via his Instagram account, senior guard Marcus McKethan, who still had one year of eligibility left following Thursday’s completion of his fifth season in Chapel Hill, announced he will enter the NFL Draft. McKethan will leave Carolina after a strong four years as a contributor on the offensive line. He finishes his Tar Heel career having played in 43 career games, starting 38 of them, all at right guard. In each of the past two seasons, McKethan has earned All-ACC honorable mention for his efforts, despite the unit around him taking a significant step backward this season.
McKethan will now begin his preparations for April’s draft as he looks to climb some draft boards. As of right now, McKethan appears to be a consensus undrafted free agent, as he does not appear in a single seven-round mock draft to this point and he fails to even appear on The Draft Network’s big board. Similar to his classmate Jordan Tucker, he has some work to do to get the attention of NFL scouts.
With McKethan’s announcement, the Tar Heels have now lot a tackle and guard to the draft and Joshua Ezeudu still has yet to make his decision. Like Tucker, this announcement didn’t really catch anyone off guard, but this is all part of what is a needed rebuild along the offensive line. When it comes to replacing McKethan, there isn’t really a clear answer. With Corey Gaynor transferring in and Brian Anderson and Quiron Johnson returning, the two holdovers could be kicking to guard at some point this offseason. Ed Montilus could get another opportunity to be a full-time starter, but he might be needed at left guard, especially if Ezeudu departs. As for some of the more inexperienced options, Jonathan Adorno might have the best shot of the underclassmen who are returning, but he has to be better than he has showed in his limited reps for the team so far in his career. True freshman Zach Rice is another name to keep an eye on because of just how talented he is and the fact that the learning curve at guard isn’t nearly as steep as the one at tackle. Don’t sleep on the idea of the staff going back in the transfer portal either this offseason.