NFL Draft 2013 Preview: NC State Prospects

Mike Glennon Headlines the List of Former Wolfpack Players Hoping to Be Drafted

Mike Glennon Headlines the List of Former Wolfpack Players Hoping to Be Drafted

Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 50 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 25 through 27.

Despite some middling returns over the past few years, NC State has managed to produce a significant amount of NFL talent. And the 2012 season was no different, with as many as five players performing well enough to be drafted later this week. While former head coach Tom O’Brien certainly wasn’t the best at getting his team over that seven-/eight-win hump, you can’t say he didn’t groom future pros. It’ll be interesting to see if new coach Dave Doeren, with an unconventional offensive style, manages to replicate those results.

Mike Glennon, QB, Senior (Projected: Late Second Round)

Glennon came into the national spotlight this past October, after guiding the Wolfpack to one of the 2012 season’s early upsets, over then-no. 3 Florida State. Since then, he’s fluctuated mightily on draft boards, hovering around the top five quarterback spots for a weak class at the position. Though there was initially some talk about him leaping into the first round due to his strong arm and ability to read deep routes, he’s got plenty of concerns hampering him as well. At 6’7″ and 225 pounds, there’s concern that his height will be more of a liability, since the large target for tacklers is not strong enough or fast enough (just a 4.94 40-yard dash) to allude quick pass rushers. Additionally, while he certainly can throw the football for distance, there’s more worries on his accuracy. In his senior season, Glennon completed just 58.5 percent of 564 throws for a little over 4,000 yards. He could certainly work his way up a depth chart, but Glennon needs a little work if he’s eventually going to be an NFL starter.

David Amerson, CB, Junior (Projected: Early Third Round)

If you based Amerson’s value purely off his game tape from 2011, he’s a bonafied top-five pick. Lucky for teams picking at the top of the draft, they also get to see his disastrous 2012. Though he’s still a talented corner and certainly a player who can make an impact at the pro level, Amerson’s junior season gave teams several reasons to be concerned. Amerson experienced a drop-off in both tackles and interceptions, partially due to teams failing to target his side of the field as much. In addition — and this is where the worry comes in — he showed himself vulnerable on deep routes in one-on-one coverage, most notably in his first game of the season against Tennessee. His 4.35 40-yard dash time is impressive and exactly what scouts are looking for to pair with his 6’1″ and 215-pound frame. But they’ll need to be confident he can keep up in coverage against the NFL’s faster, taller receivers.

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2012 ACC Football Season Recap: NC State Wolfpack

After All the Preseason Hype for Mike Glennon & NC State, 2012 Was Just Another Letdown

After All the Preseason Hype for Mike Glennon & NC State, 2012 Was Just Another Letdown

Team: NC State Wolfpack

W-L: 7-6 (4-4)

Postseason: 38-24 Franklin American Mortgage Music Cit Bowl loss to Vanderbilt

Top Offensive Performer: Mike Glennon, QB

Top Defensive Performer: Earl Wolff, S

This was the year that Tom O’Brien’s NC State team was supposed to break through and contend in the ACC. He had the senior quarterback, the experienced secondary — everything this team needed to finally get over the hump. And yet at the end of the season, the Wolfpack finished with their typical six or seven wins, and then O’Brien was dismissed. How did this happen?

Well, for starters, that experienced secondary came back down to earth from last year’s phenomenal performance. After picking off 27 passes in 2011, the team managed just 16 this season, with the biggest drop-off coming from cornerback David Amerson (just five in ’12 versus 13 in ’11). From a team perspective, it’s also easy to how this all came about. Back in 2011, State’s aggressive, go-for-broke style allowed just as many big play (passing attempts of 30-plus yards) tries, but more of those resulted in interceptions. This time around, with the decrease in interceptions, more of those attempts resulted in gains of 30 yards or more (25 of that variety, 16 of which went for 40 or more). Part of this was an adjustment in opponents’ play (see Amerson’s dreadful performance against Tennessee in the season opener), but the rest can be perceived as a severe drop-off in the team’s talent level. If we’re looking for reason number-one why this squad fell short of expectations, the secondary probably sits front-and-center. When you finish 86th nationally in pass-defense, it’s just tough to argue you did your job, necessarily.

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ACC Football Top 25 Players of 2012: #8, Mike Glennon

Mike Glennon's Career Has Been Highly Scrutinized Now As He Enters NFL Draft Conversations

Mike Glennon’s Career Has Been Highly Scrutinized As He Enters NFL Draft Conversations

As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.

No. 8, Mike Glennon, QB/NC State(Preseason Rank: 3)

Putting aside the overblown hype surrounding Mike Glennon’s post-collegiate status as a passer, we’d prefer to take a look at how the NC State QB performed during his senior year. Like it or not, Glennon was the team’s leader and most productive player on offense, most notably guiding the team to what was then a monumental upset of a top-three team (Florida State) back in early October. Despite his less-than-stellar numbers in that game (259 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT), it was his efforts in the contest’s closing seconds, ultimately throwing the game winning touchdown, that make Glennon stand out so much. Of course, when you have a knack for some late-game heroics (and he certainly does after many close games with the Wolfpack), there’s also a price you pay, and that’s in interceptions. It’s not so much hero-ball, but “Favre-ball” he’s playing. If you’re a sound passer — and Glennon’s career completion percentage above 60-percent seems to indicate as much — you’re likely to throw more late touchdowns than late picks. So for all of Glennon’s criticism (most notably his 564 passing attempts in 13 games this year), he’s still passed for over 7,000 yards in the past two seasons, with 62 touchdowns (compared with 29 interceptions). This season, like last year, his numbers were indicative of a big-game player (five games of three or more TD passes), though a questionable bowl performance adds doubt for critics.

So because we have to debate this (begrudgingly), we will. Is Glennon a first-round pick? And if so, is he the first overall? In a weak group of quarterbacks, I say he may end up in the first round of the NFL Draft, but in no way am I sold on him as a franchise passer. Maybe more so than I was on Jake Locker, Christian Ponder or Blaine Gabbert, but not to the point where I believe Glennon’s a can’t-miss prospect. Of course, tell that to the QB-driven league that just saw another tall passer with inflated draft-day stock (Joe Flacco) just go out and win a Super Bowl.

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Way-Too-Early 2013 ACC Football Power Rankings

An Early Look at 2013 Shows Clemson to Be at the Head of the Class in the ACC

An Early Look at 2013 Shows Clemson to Be at the Head of the Class in the ACC

When we last left our teams, there appeared to be hope on the horizon. Though the 2012 season was a difficult one, the bowls showed some real glimmers of great things to come, as the ACC racked up its first winning postseason record in seven years. Beyond some long-awaited hope for greater success, 2013 also brings some change to these rankings. Syracuse and Pittsburgh will now actually be participating in the conference, after two seasons appearing in the power rankings despite not doing so. And Louisville, our newest pals set to join in 2014, will also be joining the party — meaning 15 teams will be listed for the remainder of this calendar year (and slightly beyond into bowl season 2014). Cheer up! It’s less than 230 days ’till kickoff.

1. Clemson Tigers (Last Year: 2): Tajh Boyd‘s back, and the defense is improving steadily. So even without DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Ellington, this team will still be fine in 2013. In year two under defensive coordinator Brent Venables, expect an even more aggressive front-seven as the coach works on improving linebacker play in particular. That secondary will still get burned, but be certain they’ve also learned some lessons from last year, too.

2. Louisville Cardinals (LY: NR): After the show Teddy Bridgewater put on during the Sugar Bowl this year, the Cardinals are an extremely hot commodity, and are likely to start strong in their final season of Big East football. It’ll be interesting to see how coach Charlie Strong and his team respond to having a target on their backs from week one, when they’ll likely be handed a top-10 ranking to start the year.

3. Florida State Seminoles (LY: 1): They’re losing a lot on the defensive side of the football, along with QB and senior leader, EJ Manuel. But like those old, Bobby Bowden-coached teams of teams of the 90s, this ‘Noles squad has already reloaded. The offense may take a few to warm up, but the defense will still be very much their strength heading into next season.

4. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (LY: 5): After sitting out two straight years of postseason berths, the ‘Canes are really hoping they’re given a break from the NCAA in terms of leniency. With a ton of young talent eager to get a shot at a conference title, and arguably the best QB/RB tandem in the ACC in Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson, Miami could very well be out for blood come opening kickoff this fall.

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Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: NC State Wolfpack vs. Vanderbilt Commodores

QB Mike Glennon Leads NC State Versus Vanderbilt & One of Country's Best Pass Defenses

QB Mike Glennon Leads NC State Versus Vanderbilt & One of Country’s Best Pass Defenses

Both NC State and Vanderbilt were seen as programs on the rise entering the 2012 season, and yet both started off with disappointing losses on national television. What followed, however, is what defines them as they meet in the postseason. The Wolfpack, while managing to upset then-no. 3 Florida State, also struggled for consistency during a stretch that saw them beat just one winning team (FSU) all year. Vandy, on the other hand, would tally five SEC wins, though admittedly, just one against a bowl-bound squad (Ole Miss). So are both suspect teams, or just a product of their respective schedules?

Bowl Game: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Location: Nashville, Tenn.

First Year: 1998

2012 Participants: NC State Wolfpack (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (8-4)

Last Meeting: Vanderbilt over NC State, 7-0 (1946)

***

NC State (previous bowl game: 31-24 win vs. Louisville in 2011 Belk Bowl)

Former State head coach Tom O’Brien told Wolfpack fans to expect big things in 2012, and yet the biggest occurrence ended up being his dismissal following a 7-5 campaign. Without O’Brien on the sidelines, the Pack will certainly be a different team as they head into their matchup with Vanderbilt, though admittedly, it’s hard to say if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. The former coach’s inability to assemble aggressive gameplans won’t be missed, but it’s questionable whether or not his players will be sufficiently motivated amidst the program’s upheaval. Luckily, they do possess strong veteran leadership, most notably in the form of senior quarterback Mike Glennon. In the shadow of Heisman-sized expectations, Glennon still managed to throw for over 3,600 touchdowns and 30 scores while leading a State team that relied primarily on the passing game. Averaging 304 passing yards per game, the Wolfpack were ranked 20th in the FBS, yet just 108th in rushing. The contrast — predicted given the team’s lack of true veteran presence or depth at the running back position — forced Glennon to shoulder most of the offensive load, and puts a glaring target on his back. With a defense that allowed 33 or more points five separate times, they’ll be calling on him once again. After the secondary finished 2011 campaign as the team’s biggest strength (27 interceptions), the group — led by star corner David Amerson — regressed mightily in 2012. Along with just 16 picks (an 11-INT drop from last year), State’s defense was ranked 97th in the country against the pass (versus 61st the year before).

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Top 10 ACC Football Games of 2012

Could Jamison Crowder and the Blue Devils Claim the Top Spot For Duke's Impressive Win Over UNC?

Could Jamison Crowder and the Blue Devils Claim the Top Spot For Duke’s Impressive Win Over UNC?

In a season full of parity, it’s understandable that the ACC had so many memorable contests to choose from when compiling this list. So many last-second scores, one-possession ball games and overtime battles, it was truly difficult to decipher which really were the “best” the league had to offer. Nonetheless, we make an attempt below, nodding to the 10 contests that — more than any others the ACC gave us this season — really gave us a reason to remember them. Agree or disagree with our picks? Share away in the comments.

Top 10 Games of 2012

10. Syracuse 37, USF 36: Down 20 points at the half, this was supposed to be the tombstone in another disappointing Syracuse season. And yet, as they did all year, this Orange squad refused to quit, and battled all the way back in the second half. Down five with just seconds on the clock, Ryan Nassib delivered a gutsy touchdown pass to Alec Lemon on fourth-and-goal, sealing the win and adding to his reputation as a master of the comeback.

9. Syracuse 31, Missouri 27: We promise this is the last you hear about Syracuse on this list. Once again facing a late deficit — this time 27-24 — Nassib and Lemon would complete their furious comeback with a wide-open 17-yard touchdown pass. The strike, with just 20 seconds remaining, would end up being the game-winner, sending ‘Cuse bowling for the second time in three seasons.

8. Florida State 28, Virginia Tech 22: From sloppy, to boring, to inexplicable and then miraculous, this game truly ran the gambit of emotions for players and fans. What should have been a quick win over a lackluster Hokies squad would turn into a struggle for FSU; one they were certainly lucky to come away with. Even now, the final few minutes rush by like a blur: Devonta Freeman‘s idiotic safety, EJ Manuel‘s easy 39-yard TD pass, and then Logan Thomas‘s ultimate hero-turned-goat act. Just another Thursday night ACC showdown.

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ACC Football 2012 Power Rankings: Week 14

Tajh Boyd and the Clemson Offense Were No Match for South Carolina, as the Gamecocks Embarrassed the Tigers Once Again

With the regular season officially over, we check back in with the ACC’s teams to assess the damage of 2012. The good: two teams won ten games during the regular season, just one team won less than four games, and 10 teams (could be 11 if Pitt wins this weekend) won at least six games. The bad: No team won more than 10 games, two of the league’s top five teams are ineligible, and eight teams (out of 14) won between five and seven games. Oh, and Maryland decided to leave. Which is bad.

1. Florida State Seminoles (10-2) (7-1) (LW: 1): Favored against archrival Florida, the Seminoles had a very manageable game at home and seemed poised for their first 11-win regular season in years. But then they struggled out the gate, and closed just as poorly en route to a 37-26 defeat. As a team, FSU looked outmatched everywhere but the defensive line, and quarterback EJ Manuel‘s four turnovers were the stuff of a worst-case nightmare. They’ll be favored again in the ACC Championship Game, and under no circumstances can the conference really afford for them to lose.

2. Clemson Tigers (10-2) (7-1) (LW: 2): Clemson’s BCS dreams are all but dead after they came up very short against South Carolina and its vaunted defensive front. The Tigers impressive offense was shut down in a way no one had really figured out up until Saturday, and the result exposed a team that can’t run the ball with consistency, nor can they manage to stop anyone on defense either. If Clemson hopes to take the next step and become a truly elite program under coach Dabo Swinney, they need to take full advantage of opportunities against top-tier competition. They had just three games against teams with winning records all season, and went 1-2 in those contests, while being outscored 124-116.

3. Miami (FL) Hurricanes (7-5) (5-3) (LW: 5): It’s unfortunate for the conference to see Miami sit out another postseason, but if the alternative is seeing an even better, more experienced version of this group next year, it may be the best option for everyone. In line to play in its first ACC title game, we miss out on a ‘Canes/’Noles matchup this year in exchange for what’s hopefully many more to come. Anyone who watched Stephen Morris and Duke Johnson in action this season knows there are good times ahead, so long as the defense starts to clean up its act.

4. North Carolina Tar Heels (8-4) (5-3) (LW: 4): As the year’s wore on, we’ve caught glimpses of what this Heels offense could truly become under Larry Fedora and his spread attack. But on Saturday, quarterback Bryn Renner really delivered on that potential by putting up over 300 yards and five touchdowns. The junior’s obviously taken a bit more time to adapt to the new system than initially expected, but all in all, you still can’t argue with 3,356 yards and 28 scores. Expect even better production next year, as Fedora really turns him loose.

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