In preparation for the 2014 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: 13
2013 NFL Draft picks: 3 -- CB David Amerson (Washington Redskins, 2nd round), QB Mike Glennon (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 3rd round), S Earl Wolff (Philadelphia Eagles, 5th round)
NC State struggled to exceed expectations in recent years and it cost Tom O'Brien his job as the head football coach. Enter Dave Doeren, who was named the new coach of the Wolfpack this offseason after winning 23 games in his two seasons at the helm of Northern Illinois. But he'll have his work cut out for him as he inherits a young roster with questions on both sides of the ball, including the quarterback position.
NC State has produced at least one draft pick each year since 1997 and will look to keep that streak alive next April. However, NC State doesn't have as many senior NFL prospects as last year, and the 2014 NFL Draft could be a relatively quiet weekend for Wolfpack fans.
Top NC State prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft
1. OT Rob Crisp (6-7, 312, 5.32)
Last season wasn't pretty for the NC State offensive line as they struggled to consistently protect the pocket, but Crisp didn't play at 100 percent due to injuries most of the season, most notably a broken tailbone. After a promising sophomore year where he didn't give up a sack as the starting right tackle, he was injured in the 2012 season opener, missed the next four games and limped his way through the second half of the season. However, Crisp is finally back to 100 percent health this summer and appears ready to anchor the NC State offensive line in 2013 as the starting left tackle and one of the leaders on offense. He looks the part with a tall, athletic frame, flashing the foot agility and quickness to burst off the snap and quickly get into position. Crisp has the natural body control and athletic tools to attract attention from NFL scouts this season if he can stay healthy.
2. WR Quintin Payton (6-4, 210, 4.59)
NC State had six different receivers with 30-plus catches last season, but Payton led the way in his first year as a starter with a career-best in receiving yards (798). The starting “X” receiver for the Wolfpack, he has the size and catching radius to match up well against ACC cornerbacks to reel-in tough grabs and highpoint the ball. Payton has some build-up speed, but isn't a burner and will struggle to consistently separate, especially on vertical routes, but he plays aggressive and attacks the ball. After a pair of 100-yard receiving games in the first four games in 2012, Payton cooled off down the stretch and has only two career touchdowns to his name. But with Tobias Palmer no longer in Raleigh, Payton could emerge as one of the ACC's better targets.
3. QB Pete Thomas (6-5, 225, 4.98)*
The quarterback position has seen some battles in recent years, most notably between Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon a few years ago. Well there is another one brewing in Raleigh. Thomas transferred from Colorado State and sat out the 2012 season in order to take over the starting job once Glennon left for the NFL, but with new head coach Dave Doeren now at the helm, there are some concerns if he fits the new offense. To make the situation even stickier is the fact that Brandon Mitchell transferred to the Wolfpack from Arkansas for his final season of eligibility and might conceivably be a better fit for Doeren's motion offense. Thomas is a tall, well-built passer with a strong arm, which will draw some obvious comparisons to his predecessor at NC State. But he's a better athlete than Glennon and was the first-team passer for NC State during spring practices. While Mitchell might “fit” the new offense better, Thomas is the better NFL prospect and will be a tough guy to keep off the field.
Other NC State prospects worth watching:
QB Brandon Mitchell (6-3, 239, 4.64)
Mitchell left Arkansas after the coaching staff asked him to move to receiver, but he'll have to beat out Thomas to see the field at quarterback.
TE Asa Watson (6-4, 235, 4.68)
A player poised for a breakout senior season, Watson has just 26 career catches but is an intriguing size/speed athlete.
DE Darryl Cato-Bishop (6-4, 278, 4.83)
Cato-Bishop led the team in sacks last season (6 1/2) and has some NFL skills despite not standing out in any one particular area.
DE Art Norman (6-1, 242, 4.79)*
A hybrid rusher still coming into his own, Norman has shown flashes of brilliance the past two seasons getting after the quarterback.
DT Thomas Teal (6-2, 315, 4.99)*
Teal finished among the team leaders last season with 9 1/2 tackles for loss in his first season as the starting nose tackle.
OLB Rickey Dowdy (6-2, 240, 4.68)
After riding the bench most of his career, Dowdy finished third on the team in tackles last season in a starting role.
CB Dontae Johnson (6-2, 196, 4.63)
The “other” starter opposite David Amerson a year ago, Johnson has similar size as Amerson and is lone returning starter in the secondary.