Two Tar Heels land in first round of first ESPN NFL mock draft

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The NFL offseason has shifted to rookie minicamps beginning last week and before we know it. training camp will be here in July. While the 2022 NFL draft was completed but it’s never too early to look ahead to 2023.

And yes, the first mock drafts are already out.

ESPN’s Todd McShay wasted no time releasing his first mock draft for the 2023 cycle, putting out all 32 first-round picks. Among the 32 picks in that first round, McShay has two Tar Heels listed just a year after not having a first rounder selected.

McShay has UNC defensive back Tony Grimes going No. 28 overall to the Detroit Lions with a pick they have from Los Angeles in the Matthew Stafford trade:

Grimes has 6-foot-1 size and good speed, and he broke up seven passes last season. A duo of Grimes and Jeff Okudah should help turn things around for Detroit’s lackluster pass defense.

It doesn’t take long to find the other UNC player either.

At No. 31 overall, McShay as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking wide receiver Josh Downs:

Downs is an explosive route runner who caught 101 passes for 1,335 yards last season and excelled after the catch. He’d be dangerous in Tampa Bay’s offense. Also keep an eye on the QB situation here; the Buccaneers could potentially turn to Kyle Trask or sign a free agent if Tom Brady retires after the 2022 season, but they could also focus on the draft class for a replacement.

That could be an ideal landing spot for Downs as he would be able to come in and learn from Chris Godwin and Mike Evans right away. He could also be playing with Tom Brady if he decides to return for another year.

Obviously, there is a long ways to go and a full season ahead, so both players could improve their stock or potentially hurt it.

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