October 27th, 2012 is a day that fans of the North Carolina football program will not soon forget. There were only 30 seconds left on the clock when NC State decided to punt the ball to Giovani Bernard but the ensuing half a minute would change the fate of both programs.
Kenan Stadium was as alive as I have ever seen as the final seconds ticked off the clock on the Heels improbable 43-35 come from behind victory over the Wolfpack. I stayed in my seat in section 109 a bit longer that Saturday afternoon just to soak it all in as I knew what little hope Tar Heel Nation had of seeing Gio back for his Junior season was now gone.
Most NFL draft experts have Bernard listed as the top running back on their board and see him as a late first or early to mid second round selection. Here is a look at some of the teams that could be interested come April.
Green Bay Packers: The Packers are getting healthy at the right time and are looking to make a run to the Super Bowl. They boast a prolific offense on the strength of quarterback Aaron Rodgers but lack a serious running threat. Alex Green leads the Pack in rushing with 464 yards. In my opinion this would be the best landing spot for Bernard, he would just be another weapon on a very good team and will not feel the pressure that he would in other NFL cities.
San Diego Chargers: Another disappointing season for the Chargers will likely spell the end to the Norv Turner era. The Bolts rank 27th in the NFL in rushing and it could be time to end the Ryan Mathews experiment. I feel like this would be another nice city for Bernard to start his career, the AFC West boasts two of the worst teams in the league in Kansas City and Oakland and there are many worse places to end up living other than sunny San Diego.
Detroit Lions: The Lions offense is always going to be pass first as long as Calvin Johnson is in the motor city. The Lions will be picking early in the second round and I would not be surprised to see them look for an upgrade over Mikel Leshoure. I feel like Gio can flourish with Detroit as they are the number one passing team in the league.
The first round of the NFL Draft gets underway on April 25th. We will certainly hear the name of Jonathan Cooper called that Thursday night. With a solid showing at the NFL combine, look for Giovani Bernard to be selected somewhere between picks 27 and 32.