Bradley Chubb expected to hear his name called early in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday.
He just didn’t expect to hear it called by the Denver Broncos.
Instead of taking one of the high-profile quarterbacks that seemingly dropped into to their lap, the Broncos added to their already strong defense by taking Chubb with the fifth overall pick.
It was a selection that blindsided the record-setting defensive end from NC State.
“I met with them one time at the Combine and we didn’t really talk about my fit,” Chubb said in teleconference shortly after he became the first ACC player taken. “We looked at some of my plays from the season and I was running through what I did and what my responsibility was and all of that. It was a surprise, but I’m thrilled to be there because I’m ready to do my thing.”
Chubb’s “thing” is getting to the quarterback.
It’s something he did better than anyone in Wolfpack history, including former No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams. The 6-foot-4, 276-pound Georgia native recorded 26 sacks and 60 tackles for loss during his college career while becoming the first State player to be named ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Chubb also won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the top defender in college football. With the Broncos, he joins a defense that ranked third in the NFL last season allowing an average of only 290.0 yards per game featuring one of the best players in the league in outside linebacker Von Miller.
Miller was so excited about his team’s first-round pick that he posted a video of himself celebrating on Twitter in which he can be seen jumping up and down yelling “We got Bradley Chubb!”
Chubb was just as fired up about going to Denver.
“I had the phone on the table. I didn’t even have to look at it and I saw a Denver number pop up and I was like, ‘This is it,’” Chubb said. “It was just a great moment with all of my family as I was on the phone. It was a great moment and a lot of emotions came out. Mom and Dad started crying and I tried to hold it together.”
The former Wolfpack star said he can’t wait to get his NFL career started and indicated that he expects to start contributing to the Broncos’ defense right away — but he said he’ll be willing to do whatever he’s asked in order to help his new team.
“I’m excited to get to work with guys like Von and (fellow outside linebacker) Shane (Ray),” Chubb said. “We have to make sure that we have the most dangerous pass rush in the NFL. I’m looking forward to the opportunity and I can’t wait.
“The end goal for me is definitely for me to be a starter. Like I said, I’m ready to contribute in any way I can.”
Denver struggled at quarterback last season while falling to 5-11, last in the AFC West. Because of the struggles experienced by Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch, there was speculation that the Broncos might use their first-round pick on one of the elite passers that were available.
Quarterbacks Josh Allen and Josh Rosen were still on the board when Denver made its pick. But after signing free agent Case Keenum during the offseason, General Manager John Elway said that the opportunity to take Chubb was simply too good to pass up.
“When it was all said and done and we looked at all the different options and went through all the different scenarios, we felt pretty comfortable with where we are with Case and Paxton,” Elway said. “We still believe that Paxton can be a good quarterback in this league and he continues to work. We looked at it and delved into it, but the way things fell, Bradley was the best pick for us.
“… We just felt that where we were and with Bradley staring at us, we couldn’t pass him up. He can rush the pass as well as what he can do defensively. He’s a great fit, he’s a hard worker and he plays 120 percent all the time. He’s a great addition to the Broncos.”
Coach Vance Joseph also liked the pick, saying that you can never have too many talented pass rushers in the NFL.
“In this league, if you can rush the passer, that is always an advantage on defense,” Joseph said. “To add a guy like Chubb who is the best rusher in this draft is exciting.”
Chubb was one of three players with North Carolina ties taken in the first round.
The others were Charlotte’s Jaire Alexander, a cornerback who played at Louisville, and Central Florida cornerback Mike Hughes, a native of New Bern who played his first college season at UNC in 2015. Alexander was taken by the Green Bay Packers at No. 18. Hughes went 30th overall to the Minnesota Vikings.