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2022 NFL Combine Recap: Tar Heels Edition

You may have missed it in the midst of an extraordinarily action-packed and ultimately delightful weekend for UNC sports, but the NFL also held its Scouting Combine from Thursday through Sunday. UNC had five representatives at the event, all there to show what they can bring to the table if and when a pro team drafts them next month: quarterback Sam Howell, running back Ty Chandler, offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu, offensive guard Marcus McKethan and linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel. Here’s a recap of what they’ve done and what’s being said about them. I will try to be brief; we will have more complete scouting reports and draft profiles closer to the project itself.

  • howell did not pass any of the athletic tests, citing a minor calf sprain he suffered in senior bowl. He will test during his Pro Day, which will take place on March 28. He was 6ft 5/8in and 218lbs which is more or less what we expected. His hand size had already been confirmed in the Senior Bowl, but here we have it again: 9 1/8″. In short, there’s nothing about his size that seems debilitating to his ability to play in the NFL. .

Howell threw, though, and for the most part didn’t really separate — a few nice deep balls, a bad ball or two on a speed to his right, good timing on break routes. Where he stood out was in the newly added speed test, where he led all passers with a 59 mph ball. This backs up the Senior Bowl sighting where he led all passers in turnaround speed; Howell has a hell of an arm. Obviously, every top quarterback is going to talk to every quarterback-needy team, so there’s not much to consider on Howell’s stock based on his interviews. He did, however, share a funny story about the Eagles asking him to shoot a mini hoop in their office:

After the Combine, it looks like a previously very confusing class of quarterbacks has a bit more clarity on how teams rank them – Kenny Pickett and Malik Willis are the top 2, then Howell, Matt Corral of Ole Miss, and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder make up the next tier, though how reviewers rank them varies wildly. Ridder has helped himself with some great sports testing, so he’s probably got a leg up on the other two, but Howell still has his Pro Day to change that.

  • Ty Chandler, as a running back, relies heavily on his testing to stand out as an NFL prospect, and luckily for him, he delivered, posting a lightning-fast 4.38 40-yard dash (tied for 2nd best time for the position) which establishes him as someone who can be a legitimate speed threat from the backfield. He didn’t do any agility tests; Guess we’ll see that on its Pro Day (additional note: many prospects have skipped something or other this particular harvester due to the weird, condensed setup, with same-day dyno and speedtests , among other things). He’s certainly being talked about as a possible value pick on Day 3 for his speed, special teams ability and the threat he poses as a receiver out of the backfield.
  • Joshua Ezeudu was probably the most impressive UNC prospect in the Combine compared to their draft stock, which was probably to be expected. At 6’4 and 308 pounds, down from the 325 listed on his UNC page, Ezeudu did everything but the bench press (nearly every offensive lineman chose not to press the bench so they could be 100% for drills and speed/agility metrics; you can’t inflate bench press numbers like teams might for timed tests on pro days) and tested at least above average for a guard in all he has done. He ran a decent 5.19 40, had very good explosive metrics with a vertical jump of 28.5 inches, 8’9”, and an excellent short shuttle time of 4.56 seconds. Offensive linemen probably also have the most relevant Combine practice segments, so here’s a quick compilation of those:

Ezeudu is seen primarily as a keeper, having split his time between goalkeeper and tackle for the past two years for UNC. He measured with 34-inch arms, which is enough to dispel any questions as to whether he has the length to play tackle in no time.

  • Marcus McKethan was one of the few offensive linemen who made it from the bench; he’s in a position where he’ll probably do whatever he thinks he has to do just to get eyes on him. Twenty-seven reps is a pretty good number for him, especially with 35.5-inch arms (massive for a guard), combined with a 9’2″ wide jump that’s only more impressive when you see it. coming in at 6’6,340 pounds – you’d like to see him at around 325, given his college band at 340, but alas.Here’s a quick compilation of his drill work:

  • Jeremiah Gemmel has been definitely at the Combine, but there’s very little to show – no video of him doing anything, no tests other than anthropometric measurements, no mention of meeting teams. After deciding not to go to the Senior Bowl either, I’m very curious about Gemmel’s pre-draft process which barely seems to exist. Hopefully we’ll find out more on UNC’s Pro Day. At just under 6’1 and 226 pounds, Gemmel looks more like an NFL safety than a linebacker, so he’ll need to show some functional strength to prove he can play off-ball linebacker in the game. league, because safety wouldn’t be a good fit for him athletically or trait-wise.