Cole Holcomb became the 1st Tar Heel to be drafted on Saturday evening when he was picked up by the Washington Football Team in the 5th round with the 173rd pick. It wasn’t a huge class for linebackers and Holcomb had impressed with his athletic profile, becoming about the 15th off-ball linebacker taken.
Holcomb came to UNC as a walk-on after receiving almost no interest from FBS schools out of high school and quickly became a stalwart at the middle linebacker position, consistently leading the Heels in tackles and rallying the team through a tough couple of years. When the defense was forced on the field again and again thanks to incompetent offense, Holcomb was a tone-setter for a squad that ended up breaking at inopportune moments, but competed better than a team with 5 wins in two seasons had any right to.
Holcomb’s athletic testing was a surprise even to a lot of UNC fans, as his speed and change of direction looked good, but not great, on first glance on the field. He plays intelligently, though, and clearly has a high ceiling and the work ethic to go with it to be where he is after walking on to the team initially. Washington seems to have drafted him to play outside linebacker in a 4-3, where he’ll excel covering tight ends and cutting off outside runs. He’ll be fun to watch and hope to make an impact early with Washington. We wish him the best as he starts his pro career.