The North Carolina Tar Heels football fans received tough news on Wednesday when it was announced that linebacker Darius Lipford will be entering the NFL’s supplemental draft.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 9, 2014
Since 1977, the NFL has held a supplemental draft for players who missed paperwork deadlines or developed an academic or disciplinary issue over the summer. Hall of Famer Cris Carter was selected in the 1987 Supplemental draft, as was recent Pro-Bowl wide reciever Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns in the 2012 edition.
Greg Auman offers perspective on Lipford’s NFL Draft chances.
Talked to UNC LB Darius Lipford, who is in NFL supplemental draft. Had 12 NFL teams @ workout in Chapel Hill on Monday; Bucs weren’t there. — Greg Auman (@gregauman) July 9, 2014
In 2011, former Tar Heel Michael McAdoo entered the draft after learning of his academic misconduct charges by the NBA. For Lipford, it also appears that the issue was academically related.
Inside Carolina offers some perspective.
Lipford was projected as a starter for UNC in 2014 until it was learned he wouldn’t be eligible for at least part of the season
— InsideCarolina (@InsideCarolina) July 9, 2014
Lipford worked with the first team at MLB during spring ball after playing bandit last fall. Reputation as a freakish athlete. — InsideCarolina (@InsideCarolina) July 9, 2014
The news is a huge blow to the Tar Heel’s projected defensive lineup for next season. The Heels were already going to struggle generating a pass rush with the departure of beast defensive end Kareem Martin, and Lipford’s loss will hurt just as much.
Looking at the tape from Miami, you can see how quick and athletic Lipford was playing against a talented offensive line. He struggled to generate a pass rush playing straight up against an offensive tackle. But when the Tar Heel line stunted and allowed Lipford to build up a head of steam, he was a menace in the backfield and a worry to quarterbacks. In the clip above, go to the 1:10 mark in the video to see Lipford’s impact.
He was never great in the run game or when dropping back into pass coverage, but he was pretty darn good at attacking the quarterback from the bandit position. UNC will have to lean on Norkeithus Otis to play a bigger role in that regard, but Otis has struggled with injuries throughout his career at Carolina. A The loss of Otis for just a couple games in 2014 would really hurt the Tar Heel defense and force backups Shakeel Rashad and Mikey Bart into roles I’m not sure they are ready for.
On the other hand, this is just the latest in the long line of academic issues the Tar Heels have had since Marvin Austin started things off with a tweet a few years ago. I applaud the University for acting quickly and letting Lipford know his options with the supplemental draft, but I also have to ask the question- When will all this academic and disciplinary stuff stop?
From the Marvin Austin scandal to the fake classes on the football team to the PJ scandal and now this, a lot of funky stuff has come through Chapel Hill in the last few years. The University needs to get a hold of its football and basketball programs and not let this sort of stuff continue. Although it hurts the football team, by laying down the law against Lipford, I think this latest news is a step in the right direction.
H/t: Harold Gutmann