The game was dominated by defense for the entire first half. Duke went into the locker room up 10-0. Things changed in the 3rd quarter as we saw 2 return touchdowns and multiple turnovers that caused scoring to pick up pretty quick, although still in Duke’s favor. Both teams used two QBs in an attempt to find a starter and neither one is any closer to an answer.
Both teams featured subpar passing games, moreso power by their special teams and turnovers by their defense. With my first in-depth look at NC State, I wasn’t presently surprised to find a few interesting prospects. No one in this game will be a 1st Round pick this season, but plenty of mid-to-late round prospects who will make an impact in the NFL, particularly on defense.
Duran Christophe, OG, NC State (#62), 6’5, 300 – I don’t know if I’ve ever said this about someone who’s 300 pounds, but he looked thin. Very tall player who played the way I like a lineman too. Great athletic ability to get to second level, constant motor with a bit of a mean streak. Long armed player who extends out when making contact. I’d like to see him put a few more pounds on, but even with that I think he’s best suited for a zone blocking scheme. Likely the top prospect in this game.
Quintin Payton, WR, NC State (#88), 6’4, 211 – Interesting WR prospect due to his enormous size and athletic ability. However the statistics don’t normally match expectations. From what I could see, the lack of production is due more to QB play than his own ability. He ran a few good routes where he was open but throws were off target. Showed great speed and great job to breaking tackles on his way to 80-yard TD. He had a drop on jump ball in end zone but other than that very few negatives. Would like to see if he could produce in NFL with a strong QB but still may be more of a depth guy.
Dontae Johnson, CB/FS, NC State (#25), 6’2, 195 – Haven’t been paying attention to this player enough but I definitely will going forward. He played CB last season but has moved to FS this season so he has strong versatility. I like him a little more as a safety partially because of his impressive tackling ability. I also like him at safety because he showed great body control on jump balls and certainly has the length to get the job done. Will want to see more of him, but wouldn’t be surprised if this guy keeps moving up my list into the 3rd round.
DJ Green, OLB, NC State (#31), 6’4, 228 – Green made a few big tackles as well as intercepting a pass (showed great hands on the play). He’s a little light for a LB, so I expected a little more burst but he didn’t seem to have that. Decent long speed, but not much short. Was able to fight through WR blocks to make tackles, but didn’t see him do much inside. He looked good in pass coverage however, keeping his eyes on QB and taking good drops. He’ll be a OLB in the 4-3 defense, but I don’t see him becoming a starter as he’ll be overpowered as a SAM, and too slow for a WIL.
Kenny Anunike, DE, Duke (#84), 6’5, 260– He was credited with 10 assists and I didn’t see half of them. I liked what a saw from Anunike, especially in his burst off the line and the pop he laid into his blockers. He was able to maintain the LOS of scrimmage with his strength, which surprised me given his smaller size. He has long arms which he uses to his advantage very well. Showed a good rip to make a tackle for loss as well. Not sure if he has athletic ability to be an impact player as a pass rusher, but if he could add some weight, he could be a rotational player as a strong side 4-3 DE. Currently projects as a late round pick.
Dave Harding, OG, Duke (#74), 6’4, 285 – Harding was subbed out on a few series throughout and I feel like that should have happened more. Harding didn’t impress me much blocking, rarely moving his man off the line. He was a complete liability in the pass game, once leaving a DT unblocked to shift outside and block an already engaged DE. Seemed to lack hustle and stood around too often. I don’t think he has the ability to make a NFL roster.
- NC State’s WR Rashard Smith showed some impressive return skills including a punt return TD. Could be a great late round special teams selection.
- NC State’s DE Darryl Cato-Bishop had a decent game, pressuring the QB a few times. His stats are a reflection more of Duke’s QBs holding the ball than his own ability.
- Duke’s CB Ross Cockrell sat out the game with an ankle injury. Hope he gets healed up soon to keep building his resume, could be an interesting late round selection.
- Duke’s Sydney Sarmiento was moved off the LOS far too often to be a prospect for the NFL.