In preparation for the 2013 NFL Draft, NFLDraftScout.com will profile the top draft-eligible prospects from FBS-level programs. This summer series will run until the start of the college football season.
NC STATE WOLFPACK
NFL Draft picks the last five years: 12
2012 NFL Draft picks: 5 – WR TJ Graham (3rd round, 69th overall), LB Terrell Manning (5th round, 163rd overall), LB Audie Cole (7th round, 210th overall), DE JR Sweezy (7th round, 225th overall), DT Markus Kuhn (7th round, 239th overall)
The Wolfpack are only 35-45 in the ACC over the past decade, but NC State has produced at least one NFL Draft pick since 1997, sending Pro Bowl-caliber players to the NFL like quarterback Philip Rivers, wide receiver Torry Holt and defensive end Mario Williams. NC State isn't considered a football factory, but they have quality pro prospects each season.
NC State produced three first round picks in the 2006 NFL Draft, including the No. 1 overall pick (Williams). But over the past six years, no Wolfpack player has been selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. However, there is a good chance that streak will be snapped in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Top-five prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft
1. CB David Amerson (6-3, 195)*
Maybe the top cornerback prospect in the nation, Amerson (pictured above) set a new ACC and NC State record with 13 interceptions last season as a sophomore. He became just the second player with double-digit interceptions in a single season since 2004 (Rahim Moore – 10), falling just shy of the FBS-record of 14. Amerson was a top-50 high school recruit out of Greensboro and saw playing time immediately as a true freshman cornerback in 2010, starting nine games. He returned as a starter at cornerback in 2011 and earned All-American honors for his outstanding sophomore performance. With four multi-INT games and a pair of defensive scores, Amerson won the Jack Tatum Award (nation's top defensive back) and was a finalist for the Thorpe Award last season. He has rare height and length for the position and actually played primarily at safety in high school, but has only lined up at cornerback thus far in Raleigh. Amerson has the size and ballskills for the next level, but scouts are also impressed with his competitive drive to get better, showing vast improvement between his freshman and sophomore seasons. And the coaching staff says there is no problem keeping Amerson hungry as he is one of the top practice players each week. If he can continue to improve his ability as a junior in 2012, Amerson will hear his name in the first round next April, possibly as early as the top 10 picks.
2. QB Mike Glennon (6-6, 230)
One of the top quarterback recruits out of high school in 2007, Glennon has slowly but surely begun to show why he was so highly regarded out of the prep ranks. He became a starter last season as a junior in 2011 and finished second in the conference with 31 passing touchdowns, while throwing 12 interceptions. Glennon received scholarship offers from just about every East Coast football program, but spent his first few collegiate seasons in the shadow of Russell Wilson. Last summer, Wilson decided to transfer and Glennon, who was battling for the No. 1 job, assumed the starting role. He surprised many with his positive results in 2011 with 3,054 passing yards, 32 total scores and a 62.5% completion percentage, leading the Wolfpack to eight wins. Glennon, who is the younger brother of former Virginia Tech quarterback Sean Glennon, has ideal size and arm strength for the next level, but needs to continue and improve his upper and lower body technique. He displays an obvious understanding and passion for the game of football, but is still very unpolished with his footwork and needs to refine the details of the position. Glennon currently ranks as a borderline top-100 selection, but it's not impossible to think he could make a big jump up draft boards with a strong senior season.
3. OT RJ Mattes (6-6, 315)
The only returning four-year starter on the Wolfpack offense, Mattes has seen time at tackle and guard over his career, but is expected to protect Glennon's blindside at left tackle in 2012. The senior has a long list of injuries on his resume and will need a healthy season to prove he is durable-enough for the next level. Mattes was a four-star recruit out of high school, choosing NC State over Clemson, mostly because of his father's relationship with head coach Tom O'Brien. Ron Mattes, who played under O'Brien at Virginia in the early ‘80s, is currently the offensive line coach for the Cavaliers. The younger Mattes started eight games as a true freshman guard in 2009 but an ACL injury ended his season prematurely. He moved to tackle in 2010 and started 22 games the past two seasons as a sophomore and junior. Mattes was hampered by a foot injury last season and needed surgery that kept him out for most of spring drills in 2012. He plays with the tenacity and technique that makes scouts think he has a future in the NFL, whether at tackle or guard, but he needs to stay healthy and playing every game in 2012 would really help his case.
4. FS Brandan Bishop (6-2, 205)
While Amerson stole most of the headlines from the Wolfpack secondary, Bishop finished third in the ACC with five interceptions as the two defensive backs combined for the most combined pick-offs of any teammate tandem in the nation. He has 37 career starts under his belt and is the most experienced member of the Wolfpack defense. Bishop, who was a three-star recruit out of Florida, started 20 games as a freshman and sophomore, totaling 105 tackles over his first two seasons. He started every game last season as a junior, finishing third on the team with 89 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. Bishop is a smart, disciplined defender who uses his cover awareness to put himself in the right spot at the right time. He isn't the most explosive athlete and shows some obvious stiffness, but he makes up for his lack of speed with his heady instincts and anticipation.
5. DE Art Norman (6-1, 240)*
Although undersized, Norman is one of the young up-and-coming pass rushers in the conference. In his first season as a starter last year, he finished tied for the team-lead with 5.5 sacks. Norman wasn't highly recruited out of high school in Georgia and redshirted his first season in Raleigh. He started eight games last season as a redshirt freshman defensive end and proved to be the team's top edge rusher, totaling 30 backfield pressures in 2011. Norman finished his first season with 28 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, adding a forced fumble. He is still very raw as a pro prospect, but he bends well off the edge and does a nice job finding a way to maneuver past blockers and reach the backfield. Although still unpolished, Norman could develop as one of the ACC's top pass rushers as he learns and figures out how to use his physical tools.
RB James Washington (6-0, 185)
RB Tony Creecy (6-0, 210)*
WR Tobais Palmer (5-11, 175)
TE Mario Carter (6-4, 265)
TE Asa Watson (6-4, 235)*
OT Rob Crisp (6-7, 310)*
G Zach Allen (6-3, 330)
G Andrew Wallace (6-5, 295)
C Camden Wentz (6-3, 300)
DE Darryl Cato-Bishop (6-4, 280)
DT Brian Slay (6-3, 275)
CB CJ Wilson (5-11, 190)
S Earl Wolff (6-0, 210)
Photo credit: US Presswire