Twenty-four hours after NC State’s Bradley Chubb went to the Denver Broncos with the fifth overall pick of the NFL Draft, two of his former Wolfpack linemates joined him in the league on Friday.
Tackles B.J. Hill and Justin Jones were taken in the third round by the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers respectively to highlight a productive Day Two at the draft for players with North Carolina ties.
Among those players with state ties that were drafted, Fayetteville native Harold Landry, North Carolina’s M.J. Stewart, Wake Forest’s Jessie Bates III and NC A&T’s Parker were also chosen.
Landry, a defensive end who played his college ball at Boston College, went to the Tennessee Titans with the ninth pick of the second round, 41st overall. Cornerback Stewart was taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 53 with safety Bates going to the Cincinnati Bengals one pick later. Parker, an offensive tackle who helped the Aggies to an undefeated season and HBCU national title, was the first player chosen in the third round — by the Oakland Raiders.
Because of the whirlwind nature of the past few days, Hill said that he and his former Wolfpack teammates have not yet had a chance to talk to one another about their good fortune. They have, however, communicated by text.
“I told him congratulations last night and he texted me not long ago congratulations,” Hill said. “I haven’t had the time to respond to him yet, but we always keep in touch and I’m ready to see my other teammate defensive linemen come off the board too.”
A fourth State defensive lineman, end Kentavius Street, is also expected to be picked when the draft resumes on Saturday. His name would probably have been called already if not for an ACL tear that required surgery, suffered during a private workout with the Giants.
Despite all the talent on the Wolfpack defensive line last season, New York coach Pat Shurmur still managed to stand out.
“We go through it four times and watch each guy specifically,” Shurmur said. “I think the important thing is that you want an outstanding frontliner at all positions, but you have to develop big body depth on both sides of the line. This is one of those picks, talking about B.J. specifically.”
As for Jones, he’s going from one talented defensive line to another, joining the likes of Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, Corey Liuget, and Brandon Mebane with the Chargers.
“They’re a pretty strong group. They bring it everyday,” Jones said. “That means I’ve got to bring mine everyday as well. There’s high standards over there, especially on that D line. So I’m blessed to have the opportunity to join that.”
Landry, the other North Carolina defensive lineman selected Friday, could potentially have been a first round pick after leading the nation with 16.5 sacks as a junior in 2016. Although his stock dropped somewhat after managing only five in an injury-shortened senior year, the pass-rushing specialist said he doesn’t regret his decision to return to school.
“Going back for my senior year, I met my fiancée, my son was born and now I’m a Tennessee Titan,” he said. “I don’t think it can get much better than that.”
Landry said that the Titans showed the most interest of any team during the pre-draft process, adding that it means a lot that the team traded up to take him.
“It shows much faith they have in me,” Landry said in a teleconference shortly after his selection. “It shows how much love they’ve got for me. I’m just going to show up, go to work and return the favor.
“I think coach (Mike) Vrabel, Jon Robinson, all of them guys are great guys. They do a fantastic job at the job and what they do. I’m not going to let them down. I’m going to show up, go to work and do what I’ve got to do my rookie year to help get this team, as much as I can, to a Super Bowl.”
In between all the local defensive linemen that were picked Friday was a mini-run on defensive backs midway through the second round.
Although both Stewart and Bates were taken just about where they were they were projected, draft night wasn’t without its drama for at least one of the newly minted pros.
“I got a little nervous when it got past the 50th pick,” he said. “I’m not sure why. I may have started to question things. I feel great now though.”
While all newly drafted players are excited, the thrill of getting that call was enhanced for A&T alumnus Parker by the team that selected him and the coach for whom he’ll be playing.
“My grandma is a Raiders fan since I was a kid,” he said. “She’s kept me up to date with the traditions (of drafting HBSC players).
“Growing up, the Bucs were my favorite team so I watched them coach them for years. It’s like a childhood dream to get to play for him.”