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North Carolina wide receiver Dwight Jones has had a disappointing pre-Draft process but could attempt to turn things around at his Pro Day.
There is not necessarily one marquee player set to participate in North Carolina's upcoming pro day. Quinton Coples certainly qualifies as an elite-level player, but he will probably stand on his combine numbers and participate in field drills during the pro day.
It seems over recent years this team always hits the draft with an impressive sheer quantity of draftable players. This year is no exception. Even aside from Coples, you will want to keep an eye on linebacker Zach Brown, wide receiver Dwight Jones, defensive linemen Donte Paige-Moss and Tydreke Powell, as well as cornerback Charles Brown.
I was not happy with the coverage abilities of North Carolina's defense in 2011. The inability to cover, especially the quick pass, was a big part of why Coples lacked sack production. A perfect example is a pass play run by the Miami Hurricanes where Coples was blocked by three players. The Hurricanes went to a max protect and sent both a tight end and tailback to the left side of the formation to help tackle Brandon Washington deal with Coples. North Carolina only rushed three players, dropping eight in coverage. With eight men in coverage versus only three receivers running routes, Jacory Harris was still able to get the football out of his hands in 2.47 seconds and complete a deep pass to Travis Benjamin.
Zach Brown at linebacker was a big part of the disappointing coverage of the quick passing game. Despite incredible speed—which I re-timed at 4.42 seconds on his first and fastest combine run (the one where he stumbled a little)—he has no instincts for finding the passing lanes and does not diagnose plays quickly. That is why he had trouble covering fullback Bradie Ewing deep down the right sidelines on a wheel route at the Senior Bowl, despite Ewing's 4.7 speed.
Brown ran an "official" 4.50 at the combine, which was very disappointing relative to his goals of breaking into the 4.3's at 244 lbs. He has a chance at redemption, at least in the eyes of the media, who are the only ones that pay attention to the "official" times. However, nothing he does at his pro day is going to make him a better football player on game day, and that was my primary problem with him as a draft prospect.
On the other hand, Dwight Jones is another player that is fresh off a disappointing combine performance, yet is a guy that I liked a lot better on tape. Jones has the speed to get open deep in the NFL and he excelled running under the passes of a good deep ball thrower in T.J. Yates back in 2010. The biggest problem with him was inconsistency. He had trouble getting comfortable in the All-Star setting at the Senior Bowl.
At the combine, Jones ran an unofficial 4.57, which I felt was way off the mark. I had him re-timed at 4.50 seconds. Even the "official" number, which comes out higher than the unofficial number in 99.9 percent of cases, came in at 4.55 seconds. This highlights how a thumb error was probably more responsible for that initial 4.57 second reading than Dwight Jones.
Another player I really liked was corner Charles Brown. He is a guy that excels more in off coverage. He likes to close on the ball, and he's very physical. I saw him all week during the practices leading up to the East-West Shrine Game, and he showed off his physicality and ability to close. However, running a 4.63 "official" time at the combine (I have not yet had the time to re-time his 40-yard dash myself) does not help his draft stock in the eyes of the media. He may choose to re-run at this pro day and improve his standing with the public.