The Wolfpacker

March 2018

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 49 of 79

50 ■ THE WOLFPACKER BY RYAN TICE W hen the 2014 recruiting class signed with NC State, Dave Doeren's first full year on the recruiting trail resulted in a class ranked No. 30 nationally. Four years later, re- examined those recruiting classes and deemed the Wolfpack's 31-man haul 12th in the land. Despite its four-year record of 31-21, the class laid the foundation for Doeren's pro- gram and was a major key for this season's nine-win campaign — which is tied for the second most victories in school history. The Pack also finished No. 23 in both national polls, the school's first top-25 fin- ish since 2010, and broke its string of three straight 3-5 ACC records to tie a school record with six conference wins. "Coming in, we felt like we were the best recruiting class to ever step though at NC State," defensive end Kentavius Street, the group's top-ranked recruit, said in Janu- ary. "With the events that are about to take place this spring, we are going to show the evidence that we were that talented, given we weren't able to show that much this season with the little bit of underachieve- ment we had." The defensive line, which featured a quartet of starters from that recruit- ing class, led the way all year and fig- ures to do so again when the NFL Draft rolls around April 26-28. All four were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, held Feb. 27-March 5, an early indication that each has a good chance of being drafted. It would be the first position group ever from NCSU to produce more than three picks in the same year — and that even in- cludes when the draft stretched to double- digit rounds (this year will have seven). Of course, doing that would break the current mark shared by another ferocious de- fensive line — the 2006 group that not only produced three draftees, but a trio of first- round selections to set the record with three top-100 picks (No. 1 Mario Williams, No. 22 Manny Lawson and No. 26 John McCargo). The Headliner Just like that 2006 group was led by a marquee defensive end who donned No. 9, the draft spotlight is focused on another No. 9, this one whose jersey featured a patch commemorating the ACC's first-ever No. 1 pick. Bradley Chubb not only broke Williams' career sacks and tackles for loss school records, he made a case that the No. 9 jersey might require another adorn- ment if it is worn again in Raleigh. Chubb, a 2017 unanimous All-Ameri- can, is considered by many experts to be the safest pick in the draft, although the general consensus ahead of the NFL Scout- ing Combine is that the top two picks will both be quarterbacks. So while it's not likely that he joins Wil- liams in the No. 1 club, he could make a similar — if not better — impact at the next level, where the former All-Pro Williams racked up 97.5 sacks in 11 seasons be- fore injuries slowed, then ended, his career. From his second professional campaign to his ninth, Williams posted 86.5 of his quarterback takedowns despite missing 14 full games — nearly a full season — during that eight-year stretch. Many contend that Chubb can provide more of a well-rounded presence than Wil- liams who, despite the gaudy career sack total that is tied for 34th in NFL history, recorded just 399 career tackles, meaning nearly one-fourth of stops were quarter- back takedowns. "You could make the argument Chubb is the best player in the draft," ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said in mid-January. "He's not that far off from being the No. 1 guy in the draft. … He's not the elite talent that [2017 No. 1 pick] Myles Garrett is, but he's more consistent and more on a daily basis gave you everything he had against the run and the pass." Kiper lists Chubb third on both his big board and mock draft, which were updated in late February ahead of the combine. Experts from three other outlets — NFL-, and STRENGTH IN NUMBERS NC State Is Poised To Send A Historic Pack Of Draft Picks To The NFL Bradley Chubb is unanimously ranked as the No. 1 defensive end in the upcoming NFL Draft. ESPN guru Mel Kiper Jr. noted in late February that "he's the best guy by miles" in his position group. PHOTO BY KEN MARTIN

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