For the first time in the school’s history, North Carolina saw four Tar Heels taken in the first two rounds of the NFL draft Thursday and Friday night.
While that’s a nice little tidbit, perhaps the more astounding angle is the fact that three-quarters of that quartet didn’t see the field during the 2010 season.
Defensive end Robert Quinn (first round, 14th overall, St. Louis Rams), defensive tackle Marvin Austin (second round, 52nd overall, New York Giants) and wide receiver Greg Little (second round, 59th overall, Cleveland Browns) all were suspended for the entire 2011 season for their roles in the agent scandal that rocked Chapel Hill and forced another 10 of their teammates to miss all or part of the year. And the other Tar Heel taken, Bruce Carter (second round, 40th overall, Dallas Cowboys), tore the ACL in his left knee in late November.
The suspensions did likely come with a financial cost, however, especially for Quinn and Austin; the former was being projected as a potential top-five — if not the overall No. 1 — pick in this draft before all of the off-field tumult hit the fan, while the latter has mid-first-round talent but undrafted free agent character according to some pre-draft dissections.
I guess the lesson is, though, if you have talent, the NFL will eventually find you. Regardless of how long you’ve been away from the playing field.
And, on a semi-related finishing note, Carter, Austin and Little were three of the 12 players from the ACC selected in the second round. That was by far the top total amongst the conferences.