There will be plenty of NFL interest in tonight's Miami at North Carolina game (7:30 p.m., ET, ESPN). According to NFL.com's Mike Huguenin, 37 pro personnel members will be in attendance, including five general managers. That's considerably more than the 26 that were at Louisville/Rutgers last week. Why will so many be at Kenan Stadium?
Part of it is a consequence of it being the only game of the night so East Coast scouts can easily make the game before heading to their Saturday assignments. More importantly, the game features several solid NFL prospects, including two senior quarterbacks.
Here's what all those scouts will be looking at:
When Miami has the football:
Hurricanes quarterback Stephen Morris isn't having quite the season many expected. At times you see Morris' big arm. He can make tough throws as well as any quarterback in college. In Miami's pro-style offense, his arm strength isn't always on display because they prominently use running back Duke Johnson. But the arm strength and compact throwing motion are there. Where Morris gets in trouble is his ball placement. He'll sometimes pull the trigger too quickly or throw into coverage. He'll also have a tendency to rely too much on arm strength and overthrow his receiver. It's also worth noting that Morris had an ankle injury earlier this season.
Right tackle Seantrel Henderson will be back this week after serving a suspension. Once highly regarded as a prospect due to his potential, Henderson won't even be starting tonight. In his place will be Brandon Linder who shifted over against Georgia Tech from right guard. Linder has an NFL future because of his ability to play inside and outside. Henderson should still get drafted, but probably not until the last day of the draft. Keep an eye on Miami wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. He's undersized at 5-foot-9, but he has speed to get open over the top. He's flashed at times this season.
Defensively, North Carolina will try to apply pressure with senior end Kareem Martin. He has just 1.5 sacks and four quarterback hurries on the season. The issue with Martin is he doesn't always play strong and can get handled by single blockers. Safety Tre Boston, defensive tackle Tim Jackson and cornerback Jabari Price are North Carolina's other NFL prospects on defense.
When North Carolina has the football
Like Morris, North Carolina's Bryn Renner is having something of a down season. Renner sat out UNC's last game against Virginia Tech with a left foot injury. Renner needs a signature game to boost his draft stock. Look for Renner to rely heavily on tight end Eric Ebron. A junior, Ebron has the speed and playmaking ability to make it as a No. 1 tight end in the NFL. Ebron describes his speed as "illegal," which is sort of true considering he runs a 4.57 40-yard dash at 254 pounds.
Tar Heels left tackle James Hurst has boosted his stock this season. At worst, Hurst should be a second-round pick in May. He's adept at run and pass blocking because he's a technically sound blocker with good footwork.
Miami has a legit NFL prospect at linebacker in junior Denzel Perryman. He's an ideal weak-side linebacker capable of dropping into coverage and coming up to play the run. Miami's other outside linebacker, Thurston Armbrister, is a name to keep in mind for 2015. He's not a regular starter, but has flashed potential as a redshirt sophomore.