The 2021 NFL Draft class featured five players selected from UNC's team — the most since the 2017 draft class, which saw six Tar Heels get selected, including quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
Of the 2021 rookies, three have made an immediate impact for their respective teams, and two of them were featured in a head-to-head running back showdown in the Mile High City.
Williams has been without a doubt the most productive player out of the Tar Heel rookie class. The 35th overall pick has helped the Denver Broncos solidify their offensive strategy, which is one of the reasons they are undefeated through three games.
Williams has recorded 177 yards from scrimmage with five receptions and one touchdown, which he scored in Sunday’s matchup against his former teammate Michael Carter and the Jets. Williams has split carries with veteran back Melvin Gordon, who will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
Williams’ potential gradual improvement over the course of the season will be significant, as the Broncos may look to transition the future running back position fully to Williams.
One of the newest members of the New York Jets, Carter has been plugged in immediately as the starting back for a Jets offense that is … struggling.
Having only scored 20 points over a three-game span, the Jets' young offense has yet to produce with talent still left to develop at all positions — especially for the offensive line and second overall pick Zach Wilson. But the dual-threat Carter has seen relatively better production, amassing 137 yards from scrimmage and five receptions over a three-game span.
Carter – who led UNC in rushing yards for three years in a row — has not scored an official NFL touchdown yet, but should see the end zone soon with his current usage in the Jets’ offense.
Selected 82nd overall in the third round of the draft by the Washington Football Team, Brown has seen increased action in his rookie season as Washington has dealt with injuries. Listed as the backup to wide receiver Terry McLaurin, Brown —North Carolina’s leading receiver from 2019 and 2020 — has been a starter in each of Washington’s three games, with newly-acquired wide receiver Curtis Samuel on injured reserve.
Though Brown only caught one pass for -2 yards in his first start, he saw an incline in targets in a division rivalry matchup against the New York Giants. He helped Washington slip by in a 30-29 victory by notching three receptions for 34 yards off of six targets. Brown garnered no new statistics in a week three blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills, as he was only targeted twice.
The two other rookies in the class, Dazz Newsome and Chazz Surratt, have seen little to no usage on the field thus far on their respective teams. Both drafted into the NFC North division, Newsome is currently on the practice squad for the Chicago Bears after not making the 53-man roster. Surratt is a bench player for the linebacker core of the Minnesota Vikings, primarily playing snaps on the special teams unit.
In relation to years prior, the Tar Heel draft class has been productive as a unit in the NFL.
With the season getting underway and the first month of regular season gameplay almost complete, look for these players to continue to increase upon their impact for their teams.
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