The NC State Wolfpack snuck into a bowl game in 2022, only to lose 16-12 to Maryland. While they are sending a number of NFL Draft prospects to the event in April, there’s no guarantee that one of them hears their name called. Let’s take a closer look at the scouting reports for each NC State prospect.
NC State 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
Chandler Zavala, G
Strengths: Nice-sized offensive lineman who shows athleticism. Quickly gets into blocks, fluidly gets to the second level, and plays to his 40 time. Stays square, keeps his feet moving, and anchors in pass protection. Explosive at the point, turns defenders from the line, and gets after blocks. Usually blocks with proper knee bend and leverage. Keeps his head on a swivel and always looks for someone to hit.
Weaknesses: Late with his hands on occasion. Really doesn’t finish blocks. Must be more consistent with his anchor in pass protection, as he often gets knocked off the line of scrimmage.
Overall: Zavala flashed ability throughout his college career, and after a solid performance during Shrine Bowl practices, he turned in a terrific pro day workout. He comes with upside and should definitely get practice-squad consideration this fall.
Cory Durden, DT
Strengths: Former Florida State defensive tackle whose game has leveled off the past two seasons. Plays with terrific pad level, gets leverage on opponents, and fires off the snap with a quick first step. Effectively uses his hands to protect himself, attracts double-team blocks, and holds the point. Works hard to make plays against the run.
Weaknesses: Not much of a playmaker or pass rusher. Controlled at the point by a single opponent or out-positioned from the action despite his size.
Overall: As a sophomore at FSU, Durden showed a lot of upside potential and was an explosive playmaker who was tough to stop. He got off to a quick start after transferring to NC State, yet he played marginal football last year following his return for a second senior season.
He possesses the size, growth potential and underlying athleticism to be a defensive tackle in a four-man front, but Durden must quickly elevate his play this summer to get out of camp.
Cyrus Fagan, S
Strengths: Underrated safety with terrific instincts. Quickly reads the action and tracks the pass in the air. Gets vertical and competes to defend throws. Quickly locates the ball handler, fires to the action, and has an explosive closing burst. Drives to the ball out of his plant and plays heads-up football. Shows good hands for the interception and wraps up tackling.
Weaknesses: Lacks deep speed. Possesses a thin build and is more of a drag-down tackler.
Overall: Fagan was a solid DB for two different universities and has a well-rounded game. While he doesn’t show great speed, Fagan possesses solid ball skills and makes a lot of plays against the run. He offers possibilities as a fourth safety in a zone scheme and comes with a special-teams mentality.
Derrek Pitts Jr., CB
Strengths: Tough, run-defending safety who shows ball skills facing the action. Battles opponents throughout the route, effectively times pass defenses, and shows good awareness. Aggressive, fires up the field, and gives effort defending the run. Shows a burst of speed and the ability to chase down opponents in the open field. Stays on the receiver’s hip out of breaks and works to get his head back around.
Weaknesses: Must improve his backpedal. Not quick flipping his hips in transition. Loses the pass trying to turn his head back around to track the ball.
Overall: Pitts is an underrated DB who has enough ability to line up in dime packages and play on special teams.
Drake Thomas, LB
Strengths: Tough, fiery linebacker who gets the most from his ability. Instinctive, quickly diagnoses plays, and flows to the action. Plays faster than his 40 time, displays speed moving in every direction, and makes several plays in space. Gets depth on pass drops, shows good recognition in coverage, and goes sideline to sideline. Sells out and shows a lot of suddenness in his game.
Weaknesses: Short and not a stout tackler. Lacks great pursuit speed.
Overall: Thomas was a super-productive LB who registered 100+ tackles the past two seasons and found ways to make plays behind the line of scrimmage, as well as when the ball was in the air. He comes with poor size and minimal growth potential, yet his instincts and tenacity could help him find a roster spot as an eighth linebacker/special-teams player.
Want more information on Thomas? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Drake Thomas, LB, NC State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Grant Gibson, C
Strengths: Former DT who started the past four seasons at center. Resilient, blocks with a nasty attitude, and works to finish off opponents. Fires off the snap, gets leverage on opponents, and stays square to seal defenders from the action. Quickly gets his hands into opponents and correctly places them. Effective with the shotgun snap. Does a terrific job quarterbacking the offensive line.
Weaknesses: Lacks power in the middle of the line and gets knocked around by opponents. Really cannot slide in space.
Overall: Gibson is a terrific football player with a great head for the center position, yet he lacks size and growth potential as well as athleticism. His approach to the game and understanding of the position could help him catch on as a backup.
Isaiah Moore, LB
Strengths: Underrated LB with a three-down game. Instinctive, remains disciplined with assignments, and quickly locates the ball. Breaks down well, uses his hands to protect himself, and holds his ground against blocks or slides off them altogether to make the play.
Doesn’t bite on ball fakes, stacks well against the run, and is a stout tackler. Easily changes direction, moves well laterally, and attacks ball handlers. Fires upfield on the blitz and shows a closing burst.
Weaknesses: Possesses average ability in coverage. At times, makes his first move upfield and gets caught out of position.
Overall: Moore impressed me as a redshirt freshman and did a good job for the Wolfpack in a variety of defensive schemes. He possesses the athleticism to stay on the field on passing downs, though he needs to improve his ball skills. Moore comes with upside and could easily make a roster as a sixth or seventh linebacker.
Want more information on Moore? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Isaiah Moore, LB, NC State | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Tanner Ingle, S
Strengths: Well-rounded safety who gets the most from his ability and overachieves. Stays with assignments, effectively patrols centerfield, and works hard. Quickly picks up assignments and tracks the pass in the air. Gets vertical and competes to defend throws. Aggressive, fires upfield, and drives his shoulders through ball handlers. Keeps the action in front of him and possesses a closing burst.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
Weaknesses: Does not display great lateral speed. Small and lacks height.
Overall: Ingle was a productive safety at NC State and did an outstanding job against the run and holding his own in coverage. He lacks next-level size, but Ingle has been a productive kick returner in the past, which could help him capture a roster spot.
Thayer Thomas, WR
Strengths: Productive three-year starter who projects as a possession wideout. Plays with outstanding awareness, shows good route discipline, and settles into the open spot of the defense. Extends his hands to make the reception away from his frame and immediately turns upfield after the catch.
Tracks the pass in the air, adjusts, and lays out to come away with the difficult grab. Works across the field to help the quarterback and reaches backward to grab the errant throw. Used on punt returns.
Weaknesses: Not very quick and plays to one speed. Marginally effective after the catch.
Overall: Thomas possesses nice length and is a reliable pass catcher, but he lacks speed and quickness for the next level.
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