The 2018 NFL season began with 18 former Tar Heels represented on pro rosters. This is in large part due to the 2017 NFL Draft where six Tar Heels were selected. Among them was Mitchell Trubisky, who joined Julius Peppers as one of two active Tar Heels that were chosen in the top-two of the NFL Draft.
The two UNC greats have played up to their draft selection this week, and each earns a spot on this list. In addition, there are two former teammates and members of the 2014 draft class in Eric Ebron and Tre Boston.
These players performing at a high level gives the Tar Heel faithful something to appreciate during a lost college season.
The second-year quarterback added to a breakout year with another strong performance in Week 8. In a bout against the New York Jets, Trubisky completed 16 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns. He also failed to turn the ball over and tacked on an additional 51 yards on the ground.
His performance resulted in the first win in three weeks for the Chicago Bears, bringing their record to a respectable 4-3. On the season, Trubisky has thrown for 1,814 yards and 15 touchdowns to six interceptions. He has also shown his dual-threat ability by rushing for 296 yards and two touchdowns. His impressive eight yards per carry ranks first in the entire NFL for players with 10 or more rushes on the season.
The city of Chicago is thankful for the Ohio native’s progression in his sophomore year. In five fewer games, Trubisky has more than doubled his number of passing touchdowns from last year — 15 to 7. This includes vastly improving his touchdown to interception ratio from 1:1 to 5:2.
Ebron joins Trubisky among the NFL’s most improved players from a season ago. After being considered a bust by many in Detroit, Ebron has enjoyed a revival in his first year with the Indianapolis Colts.
In Week 8, Ebron caught three balls for 37 yards and a touchdown during a win over the Oakland Raiders. The touchdown brought his season total to seven in merely eight games. That number ranks first among tight ends and second only to Antonio Brown’s eight. His seven scores are already two more than his previous career high of five in 2015.
His 394 receiving yards also ranks among the top tight ends in the league and puts him on pace for 788 yards on the season. That total would be 77 yards higher than his previous career-high of 711 in 2016.
Boston has only played in six of the Arizona Cardinal’s eight games but is tied for second in the NFL in interceptions. His three picks are just behind DJ Swearinger’s four, which is top in the league. This includes friendly fire against former teammate Trubisky when he picked off the former Tar Heel in Week 3.
Despite being in his 17th NFL season, Peppers is still making plays during his second stint with the Carolina Panthers. He has collected two sacks in limited action this season, bringing his career total to 156.5. This total is just 3.5 sacks from tying Kevin Greene for third in all-time sacks. Peppers also has 25.5 sacks more than the next closest active player in Terrell Suggs. He looks to close the gap on Greene when the Panthers square off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend.
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