Among the dings to Mitchell Trubisky's draft profile is that he only started one year at North Carolina, leaving him without the usual experience found in first-round quarterbacks.
Trubisky was outstanding in that one year, though, completing 68 percent of his passes for 3,748 yards with 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. But despite that eventual success, Trubisky in his first two years on campus wasn't able to beat out Marquise Williams for the Tarheels' starting gig.
In asking some of Trubisky's former teammates why the potential first-round pick didn't start sooner, the answers were clear: It wasn't his fault. And they pushed back on the idea that Trubisky is merely a one-year wonder.
"I think it's unfair," running back Elijah Hood said at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. "Mitch can play the game. I've been practicing with him for years and he's always been that way, he's always been able to play, he's always been able to throw the ball.
"… (Williams) is one of the best players to ever come through the school, and Mitch pushed him for that starting job throughout his entire career. It just lets you know what kind of player he was and what the coaches really thought of him that he was constantly nipping as this guy's heels who was winning us football games."
North Carolina went 6-7 with Williams as its quarterback in 2014 — Trubisky's freshman year — but ripped off 11 wins in 2015 and only lost to eventual national runners-up Clemson by eight points in the ACC title game. Williams put up excellent numbers that year: 3,072 yards, 24 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and 948 rushing yards with 13 touchdowns. No matter how good Trubisky may have been, he wasn't beating out Williams as North Carolina finished the season with its highest AP ranking in two decades.
Williams wasn't an NFL prospect — he went undrafted and was cut by the Green Bay Packers prior to the 2016 season — but he was a good college quarterback. Trubisky probably wouldn't have been only a one-year starter had Williams not blocked him.
"I feel like a lot of people say (he's a one-year wonder) because he wasn't on the main scene, it was 'Quise a lot," former UNC running back T.J. Logan said. "But I feel like behind the scenes, Mitch was the guy working. He was always coming to practice ready to work, he had the team hyped up."
From a leadership standpoint, Hood said Trubisky brings the right blend of being poised, thoughtful and approachable to an offense. And wide receiver Ryan Switzer, who roomed with him at North Carolina, said Trubisky is one of the brightest football minds he's been around.
"Anybody that gets Mitch isn't just getting the No. 1 quarterback, they're not just getting a guy that looks the part, they're getting a guy that really loves the game of football, comes from a great background," Switzer said. "I know he's set goals to do great things in the NFL."