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UNC's MJ Stewart on the NFL draft: 'I'm going to fit in wherever a team needs me'

UNC CB M.J. Stewart speaks after pro day

UNC cornerback M.J. Stewart, a potential target for the Carolina Panthers in the upcoming NFL Draft, speaks after his pro day Tuesday.
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UNC cornerback M.J. Stewart, a potential target for the Carolina Panthers in the upcoming NFL Draft, speaks after his pro day Tuesday.

The next two days of the NFL draft could get interesting for players from UNC.

The Tar Heels have three who could be selected. Here's a look at when in the draft they could go.

M.J. Stewart, cornerback

M.J. Stewart, who played four years at cornerback for the Tar Heels, is projected by some to go as high as the second round. Stewart finished his career at UNC as the school's all-time leader in pass breakups, but NFL scouts were high on Stewart's physicality and tackling ability. He was an honorable mention All-ACC player last season with 45 tackles, five for loss, two sacks and 12 pass breakups.

For Stewart, NFL.com projects him to go in either the second or third round on Friday. Draftscout.com projects him to go in the third round. Pro Football Focus considers him the 65th best prospect in the draft. Stewart, who is 5-11, 200 pounds, ran a 4.54 at the NFL draft combine, recorded a 35-inch vertical jump, and had 18 repetitions on the bench press.

Stewart struggled early in his career at UNC with off-the-field issues. He was suspended for the first game of his sophomore season in 2014 for his role in a hazing altercation with a former walk on.

In October 2015, Stewart and former UNC cornerback Mike Hughes were arrested on misdemeanor assault charges. Stewart was suspended for two games. He had no further incidents during the rest of his career. Hughes played one season at UNC in 2015 before leaving for "personal reasons." He transferred to Garden City Community College, then UCF. In Thursday's first round of the draft, Hughes was picked by the Vikings at No. 30.

Stewart was UNC's unquestioned leader last season after a rough year for the Tar Heels that included multiple injuries to key players, and the school's worst record in Fedora's tenure there.

Some analysts believe Stewart could be converted to a safety.

Stewart believes he is capable of playing anywhere. "I feel like I'm going to fit in wherever a team needs me," Stewart said after his pro day last month. "I'm a versatile player who can play nickel corner, safety even if need be."

Andre Smith, linebacker

Smith talks about his workout following North Carolina’s Pro Timing Day for NFL scouts on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Linebacker Andre Smith is projected to be drafted on Saturday. NFL.com projects Smith, who is listed as 6-foot, 237 pounds, to go in the sixth or seventh round. Smith, who had one season of college eligibility left, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second week of last season against Louisville. During Smith's sophomore season, though, he started at middle linebacker and finished second on the team with 113 tackles.

Austin Proehl, wide receiver

UNC receiver Austin Proehl, the son of former Panthers WR Ricky Proehl, had his pro day Tuesday ahead of the upcoming NFL Draft.

Austin Proehl, a 5-10, 185-pound wide receiver had some big moments in his career at UNC. He was injured for most of last season, but had 43 catches for 597 yards and three touchdowns during his junior year. But most analysts are projecting him to go undrafted.

UNC in the draft under Larry Fedora

UNC has had 16 players selected in the NFL draft since Larry Fedora became head coach in 2012. The Tar Heels had six players selected in last year's draft, including quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who was picked No. 2 overall by the Chicago Bears.

Wide receivers Mack Hollins and Ryan Switzer, running backs T.J. Logan and Elijah Hood and defensive lineman Nazair Jones were also drafted last year.

Rounds two and three of the draft are Friday, starting at 7 p.m. The final rounds are Saturday.

NFL draft's second and third rounds

When: 7 p.m., Friday

TV: ESPN, ESPN2, NFL Network, FOX

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Alexander, 919-829-4822; @jonmalexander
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