Bradley Chubb could be on his way to his new NFL team right now.
After his standout junior season at N.C. State, the 6-4, 275-pound defensive end could have jumped into the draft. Like former Wolfpack safety Josh Jones, Chubb could have been a second-round pick.
Instead, Chubb looked at the depth at his position in this draft and decided it would be better to play his senior season and try to work his way into the first round next year.
Chubb, who led the Wolfpack with 10.5 sacks, did keep an eye on the NFL combine and the workouts in the run-up to this year’s draft.
“You watch it and you know you could be there,” Chubb said before N.C. State’s spring game. “I made a decision that I felt like was right for me, and I’m happy for the decision I made.”
This could be a win-win for Chubb and N.C. State. The Wolfpack, which had one of the best defensive lines in the ACC last year and returns all four starters, gets its top pass-rusher back. After a slowish start to the 2016 season, Chubb finished with 22 tackles for a loss and became a disruptive force on the outside.
Chubb, with another outstanding season, has a chance to work his way into the first round. Three defensive ends went in the top 15 in this year’s draft, including No. 1 (Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett) and No. 3 (Stanford’s Solomon Thomas).
Six defensive ends were taken in the first round. Given the need in the pass-happy NFL for players who can rush the passer, Chubb will be a valuable commodity next April if he can back up his junior season.
Several 2018 mock drafts (yes, already) have Chubb projected as first-round pick. That can be good or bad for N.C. State and Chubb.
The last Wolfpack player to be projected to go that early was cornerback David Amerson. Amerson intercepted a then-ACC record 13 passes in 2011, his sophomore season, and was supposed to be one of the first picks in the 2012 draft.
Chubb, from a proud football family, is not the kind of player who is wired to get caught up in draft hype, but N.C. State could help him learn a lesson from Amerson’s tumble.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio