WR HAKEEM NICKS
6-foot-1, 215 pounds
2008 stats: 68 receptions, 1222 yards, 12 TD
Projection: 29th overall pick by the New York Giants (Scout, ESPN)
Nicks’ NFL stock exploded following the NFL combine, when the Tar Heel standout answered the only question surrounding his game by running a 4.49 40-yard dash in Indianapolis. But less than four weeks later, some of that luster wore off during North Carolina’s pro day, when nearly 75 scouts and team personnel witnessed Nicks post a 14-pound increase in his combine weight.
The Charlotte, N.C. native blamed the weight gain on an injured hamstring, but only five days later, more negative news came out when the Chicago Tribune reported that he scored low on the Wonderlic test.
Regardless, Nicks is expected to become Butch Davis’ second first-round pick at North Carolina and 30th overall as a college head coach. The standout receiver’s ability to perform in the primetime – see his eight-catch, 217-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against West Virginia – is an alluring quality that is too tempting for NFL personnel to pass up.
WR BRANDON TATE
6-foot-1, 195 pounds
2008 stats: 376 receiving yards, 143 rushing yards, 5 TD, 163.7 total yards of offense per game
Tate, the FBS all-time leader in combined kick return yardage, was having one of the best seasons for a skill position player in North Carolina history before missing the final seven games after tearing his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee against Notre Dame.
The Burlington, N.C. native told Inside Carolina during UNC’s pro day last month that he was back to “85 percent” of full health and fully expected to be at 100 percent by the time NFL training camps open up in late summer. That speedy recovery had apparently given several NFL teams enough hope for Tate’s ability to contribute next fall that his draft status had steadily improved.
That is, until FoxSports.com reported on Wednesday that Tate tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February. A source close to the situation informed Inside Carolina that Tate would most likely have been drafted in the second round prior to the failed drug test news.
Earlier this week, ESPN had projected Tate to the New York Jets at No. 52 (20th in 2nd round).
TE RICHARD QUINN
6-foot-4, 250 pounds
2008 stats: 8 receptions, 97 yards, 1 TD
Projections: 115th overall pick (4th round) by the New York Jets (ESPN);
76th overall pick (3rd round) by the New York Jets (Mel Kiper)
Richard Quinn has emerged as a solid prospect at tight end following a 4.75 40-yard dash at North Carolina’s pro day last month. While he never posted a high reception count during his career as a Tar Heel, his worth in the trenches is attractive to NFL scouts.
"He’s already built up a great reputation as a really good on-the-line blocker,” Davis told reporters on Mar. 17. “There’re so many tight ends in college football that are more receivers than they are blockers, and when you get to the NFL, they really want some guys that can pound and block big defensive ends, and Richard can do that. Because of that, he’s really gotten a lot of attention in the last couple of months.”
WR BROOKS FOSTER
6-foot-3, 203 pounds
2008 stats: 30 receptions, 334 yards, 2 TD
Projection: 85th overall pick (3rd round) by the Philadelphia Eagles (ESPN)
Foster’s legend in the weight room has been proven time and time again during his career at North Carolina – see recent measurements that include a 4.39 40-yard dash, 37-inch vertical, 10-4 standing broad jump and 27 bench presses of 225 pounds – but his opportunities to shine at wide receiver have been overshadowed by Nicks’ and Tate’s successes.
Add in an arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in early December that kept Foster from being completely healthy for the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine, and the Boiling Springs, S.C. product’s special teams prowess moves even more to the forefront.
Foster’s combination of fearlessness and speed as a kick/punt return gunner provides a back alley way into the NFL Draft, potentially giving him some time to earn his way into a team’s two-deep at the wide receiver position.
OT GARRETT REYNOLDS
6-foot-7, 295 pounds
Projection: 201st overall pick (6th round) by the Indianapolis Colts (ESPN)
The 2008 second-team All-ACC member started 32 games during his career as a Tar Heel, with all but one occurring from his right tackle position (right guard in ‘06). The nephew of Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds graded out at 83 percent or better in 12 of his 13 games as a senior. The Sporting News ranks Reynolds as the No. 10 offensive tackle in the draft.
OG CALVIN DARITY
6-foot-3, 310 pounds
Projection: Free agent
The Tallahassee, Fla. native started 36 games at right guard -- including a stretch of 31 straight -- for the Tar Heels, earning honorable mention All-ACC accolades in 2008. He earned team offensive honors of the week after grading out at 90 percent and recording three knockdowns against Rutgers. Darity's grandfather played for the San Francisco 49ers. The Sporting News ranks Darity as the No. 22 offensive guard prospect in the draft.
S TRIMANE GODDARD
5-foot-11, 195 pounds
2008 stats: 54 tackles, seven interceptions
Projection: Free agent
The Robersonville, N.C. native earned All-American and first-team All-ACC honors during his senior season after recording seven interceptions and racking up 156 interception return yards from his strong safety position. He combined to record 113 tackles over his final two seasons at North Carolina. Goddard started 31 games in his career, including his last 25 outings.
(Photos by Getty Images)