North Carolina defensive tackle Nazair Jones was drafted with the 102nd pick in the third round by the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL Draft on Friday.
Nearly five-and-a-half years after losing 50 pounds and being unable to walk, Jones will play for pay in the NFL. The versatile interior defensive lineman, who can play either the nose or three-technique, earned third-team All-ACC honors in his final two seasons in Chapel Hill. He made 70 tackles, including a team-high 9.5 tackles for loss, and tallied 2.5 sacks in 2016.
“He’s a line of scrimmage guy, early down player, good technique guy, plays hard,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said. “… We’re really excited about him. He really fits that role to fit into the division and play that three-technique big and heavy. He’ll be able to play five-technique as well. He’s really long and tall. And so for upping our depth and making it challenging and competitive, I think it was a great pick. I love it.”
Jones was diagnosed with a chronic pain condition known as complex regional pain syndrome in high school. The condition confined him to a wheel chair following his team's loss in the North Carolina 2A state playoffs in November 2011.
The Roanoke Rapids, N.C. native is the 14th defensive lineman from UNC selected in the NFL Draft in the last 15 years and the program's first defensive tackle taken since Sylvester Williams in 2013 (first round, Denver).