North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell intends to forego his remaining college eligibility and enter the 2022 NFL Draft.
He announced his decision via a video posted to social media on Saturday, two days after UNC fell to South Carolina in the Duke's Mayo Bowl.
Howell, a junior, completed 217 of 347 passes for 3,056 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions for the Tar Heels this season. None of those totals marked a career-best for the three-year starter, although in being called on for more designed runs and RPO keepers, he posted his best rushing season (183 carries, 828 yards, 11 TDs) by a vast margin.
He combines good accuracy, particularly on deep passes, with mobility both within and outside the pocket, and has the intangibles of toughness and leadership skills. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah compared Howell to Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield after studying three of his game tapes from the 2020 season.
Howell (6-foot-1 1/4, 220 pounds, per school measurements) was considered a Heisman Trophy front-runner at the beginning of the season, but quickly fell out of the race due to his team's struggles. UNC finished the regular season 6-7 and was never more than a game above .500 at any point during the year. Howell's decision deepens what is projected to be a relatively thin draft class at the quarterback position, according to NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt. The Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers and the Washington Football Team are among the NFL clubs who could be in the market for a quarterback.