AFC East: Tom Roth

Bills join in Tar Heel draft derby

April, 30, 2011
4/30/11
5:10
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Imagine how good the University of North Carolina could've been last season.

The Tar Heels won eight games, including their first bowl victory since 2001. But they were peppered with substantial problems throughout the season.

[+] EnlargeJohnny White
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesNew Buffalo running back Johnny White was one of eight North Carolina players selected in the first 171 picks of the NFL draft.
They endured a pair of scandals, one for improper agent contact and another for academic misconduct. Fourteen players were suspended for one game, seven for the entire season. Injuries presented additional troubles.

Illustrative of the Tar Heels' remarkable collection of talent was how much they populated the NFL draft.

Eight North Carolina players were selected within the first 171 slots and four players inside the first two rounds. The only positional group not represented was tight end.

The Buffalo Bills snagged Tar Heels with consecutive picks, taking strong safety Da'Norris Searcy in the fourth round and running back Johnny White in the fifth.

"We were stacked with talent," White said on a conference call with reporters. "I'm just happy for all those guys and feel blessed to be a part of that."

North Carolina's pro day was like a scouting festival. Droves of personnel evaluators converged on Chapel Hill because so many players hadn't produced in-season game film.

"It was unbelievable evaluating those guys," Bills regional scout Tom Roth said. "I mean, there were 15, 16, 17 [scouting reports] I wrote. Then with all the drama going on there and the injuries, there were about 150 people there. ... Some teams had their whole coaching staffs there."

The Bills sent four evaluators: general manager Buddy Nix, vice president of college scouting Tom Modrak, regional scout Darrell Moody and Roth.

"We felt like if we had all our guys and were healthy and eligible that we could go as far as we could take ourselves," White said.

Searcy was prevented from playing three games while the university investigated a class paper that had been called into question. He was cleared.

"Of all the kids at North Carolina that were involved in the academic stuff," Moody said, "he was a kid -- to put it bluntly -- he got screwed. ... There was something there they wanted to check and had questions about.

"He shouldn't have missed any games at all."

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