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Three takeaways from UNC football Pro Day

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Sophomore quarterback Drake Maye (10) runs drills at Football Pro Day in the Koman Indoor Practice Facility on Thursday, March 28, 2024.

On Thursday, UNC held its 2024 Pro Day for draft-eligible Tar Heels to showcase their talents in front of NFL scouts and executives. Drake Maye, Devontez "Tez" Walker and Cedric Gray headlined the event, while 16 other North Carolina players also participated in the workout. 

The athletic combine began with testing, which included the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone drill. Following the tests, position-specific workouts allowed scouts to see live reps from players — most notably 60 scripted plays of Maye throwing to Walker and other targets.

Here are a few notes and observations surrounding UNC’s three top prospects: 

Drake Maye

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Sophomore quarterback Drake Maye (10) runs drills at Football Pro Day in the Koman Indoor Practice Facility on Thursday, March 28, 2024.

The latest NFL mock draft from ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.has the 6-foot-4-inch quarterback slated to be the third-overall pick in the 2024 draft. If the prediction holds, then Maye will begin his professional career as a New England Patriot. However, other media outlets project Maye to be the second-overall pick by the Washington Commanders, in a close decision between the Tar Heel or LSU QB Jayden Daniels.

Whatever the case may be, Maye hasn’t lost any sleep over potential playing destinations. He told reporters staying off social media has kept him level-headed throughout all the pre-draft buzz. 

“Faith is big for me," Maye said. "I think you can always get down a dark, deep hole worrying about all the scenarios that can happen — just let [God] handle it, and I’m just focused on my craft and whoever chooses me I think they will be happy.”

On Thursday, Maye showcased his throwing ability in a 30-minute passing gauntlet. The script included a more dynamic workout than most pro day routines, with throws that followed roll-outs, simulated pressure and the occasional throw off his back foot. 

Maye also distributed the ball evenly across the field. He mixed in deep balls to Walker with an assortment of routes from other former Tar Heels, including tight end Beau Corrales. In his final 15 throws or so, the quarterback took snaps from the 10-yard line and highlighted his passing ability in the red zone. 

Even though Maye aimed to complete every pass, the playcaller admitted he fell short of perfection. When he would overthrow or place an out-of-reach ball, Maye repeated the rep to make it right. 

“He’s very competitive, like one of the most competitive dudes I’ve been around,” Walker said. “[He doesn’t] like messing up. He’s like a perfectionist, and that’s what you want out of your quarterback.” 

Aside from the three or four miscues, Maye was happy with the performance he put together in front of all 32 NFL teams represented inside UNC’s indoor practice facility. 

“[It was my] first time getting to show some things in front of these teams,” Maye said. “I haven’t done anything at the combine, so I wanted to come out here and rip it around and I felt like I did that.” 

Tez Walker

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Junior wide receiver Devontez Walker (9) runs drills at Football Pro Day in the Koman Indoor Practice Facility on Thursday, March 28, 2024.

Projected to be a second-day pick at the NFL draft, Walker exhibits freak athleticism that makes him a raw and talented pass catcher with a lot of potential. The wideout ran a 4.36 second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, the fifth fastest time out of all wide receivers. Pair that with Walker’s 40.5 inch vertical jump and the North Carolina native has the athleticism to make some special plays at the next level.

During UNC’s pro day, Walker displayed his ability to stretch the field with multiple long-ball targets during Maye’s passing workout. He also ran a mixed bag of routes to give scouts different looks throughout the session. 

“I wanted [scouts] to focus on speed routes, wanted them to focus on [how] I can run the route tree, get out of those breaks smoothly,” Walker said. “Those speed cuts, those intermediate to short-intermediate routes — things like that show I’m not a one-trick pony.”

Although improbable, the chance of Walker and Maye being drafted to the same team is a wishful conversation the two have shared. Maye lamented their time on the field together last year was not long enough, with Walker battling eligibility issues for a portion of the season.

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Junior wide receiver Devontez Walker (9) and Sophomore quarterback Drake Maye (10) share a moment at Football Pro Day in the Koman Indoor Practice Facility on Thursday, March 28, 2024.

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Now a new chapter awaits Walker, after the long and winding road it took to get there. 

“I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play last year or not and be here in front of hundreds of scouts,” Walker said. “So it feels real good to be here in this spot.” 

Cedric Gray

Listed at 6-foot-2.5-inches, 235 pounds, Gray is the perfect athletic build for the NFL linebacker position, which he pairs with great playmaking across the field. Most outlets agree that the tandem of physical traits and high football IQ make him a projected fourth-round pick.

Yet, Gray’s success as a linebacker was never something he dreamed of growing up. The Charlotte native instead caught passes as a wide receiver in high school, modeling his game after Julio Jones and sporting number 11 on the back of his jersey. 

It wasn’t until he arrived in Chapel Hill that Gray converted to the linebacker role and found success after his first start as a sophomore. 

“I finally stepped out there and really played significant minutes [and] something just triggered for me and I felt very very comfortable,” Gray said. “That was the first time I was like ‘I can do this.'” 

As for his workout at UNC’s pro day, Gray stood on all his numbers from the NFL Combine, including his 4.64 second 40-yard dash. This time around, the focus of Gray’s workout was a handful of linebacker drills that highlighted his lateral movement, change of direction and ability to pick off quarterbacks like he did five times as a Tar Heel.

He was joined by fellow linebacker Amari Gainer as the two alternated reps in a 15-minute session of several different drills. 

“My goal today was just to come out here, look good, look like I have been staying in shape, looking like a great athlete,” Gray said. “I felt like I did that today.” 

The 2024 NFL Draft will be held in Detroit, Michigan from April 25-27. 

@cadeshoemaker23

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com