Summer Huddle: N.C. State Wolfpack alumni to keep an eye on in the NFL

Chris Baird, Triangle Sports Network
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Daniel Lacy, Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C – National Football League (NFL) players across the league are coming together to get back into the swing of things in organized training workouts before training camps open in July.

Here’s an overview of where a select and notable group of N.C.State Wolfpack alums stand on their respective teams heading into the 2017 season.

Philip Rivers, Quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers

Rivers is widely regarded as a top-10 quarterback in the NFL, despite never making it to a Super Bowl in his 14-year career.

On his career, Rivers has passed for 45,833 yards, 314 touchdowns and 156 interceptions while completing 64.4 percent of his passes.

Additionally, he has thrown for over 4,000 yards in eight of the past nine seasons, but is coming off a year in which Rivers threw a career-high 21 interceptions

Despite his strong individual performance, the Chargers have only made the playoffs once since 2009.

Fortunately for Rivers, he will get weapons in the form of first-round pick Mike Williams and Keenan Allen returning from injury to help him on offense, as he is on the down swing of his career.

Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks

Unlike Rivers, Wilson is in the prime of his career and has a Super Bowl ring and two conference championships to his credit.

Entering his sixth season, Wilson has started every game of his career and has made the playoffs with the Seahawks in each of his five years, despite being a third-round draft pick.

Wilson is coming off a year in which he set a career-high in passing yards with 4,219, but career-lows in rushing yards (259) and total touchdowns (22).

He is cemented in the starting lineup and looks to keep his team as the conference powerhouse.

David Amerson, Cornerback, Oakland Raiders

One year removed from a four-year, $44 million contract extension, Amerson put up a respectable season in which he tallied 16 pass deflections and two interceptions.

Amerson has occasional lapses in coverage, particularly against the deep ball, which ultimately got him cut by Washington after being a second-round pick, but he has turned his career around in Oakland as the team’s top cornerback.

Mike Glennon, Quarterback, Chicago Bears

As previously mentioned, despite Glennon getting a three-year, $45 million deal, the Bears took Trubisky second overall, thereby giving Glennon’s time with the Bears an expiration date.

This isn’t this first time this happened to Glennon, as the Buccaneers picked Jameis Winston first overall in the 2015 draft after Glennon was set for a starting role.

Glennon has a strong arm and has shown flashes of potential in limited playing time, but has to get better control of his accuracy – a career completion percentage of just 59.4 – if he wants to hold down a starting job.

With Trubisky likely to watch from the bench for at least the first part of his rookie year, Glennon will have at least a year to essentially audition for other teams while he warms the seat for Trubisky.

Willie Young, Linebacker, Chicago Bears

Young wasn’t productive in his first four years with the Lions – with just six sacks in that time frame – but something clicked for him in Chicago, as he collected 10 sacks in his first year with the Bears and followed that up with 6.5 in 2015 and 7.5 in 2016.

With 38 out of a possible 48 starts over the past three years, Young is largely a rotational player in a talented Bears’ pass-rushing group that includes Lamarr Houston, Pernell McPhee and Leonard Floyd.

J.R. Sweezy, Guard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sweezy spent most of his time playing on the defensive line in college, but found success with the Seahawks when he switched to guard.

After four years with Seattle, his rookie contract expired and he left to sign a five-year contract with the Buccaneers, only to miss all of his first season in Tampa Bay due to injuries.

Despite all that, he has been working with the first team in OTAs at right guard and is the early favorite to start the season at that position, according to Buccaneers.com.

Joe Thuney, Guard, New England Patriots

Thuney started all 16 games at left guard in his rookie season on the Super Bowl Champions’ team after getting selected in the third round of the 2016 Draft.

While this is impressive for any rookie, especially one under head coach Bill Belichick, Thuney struggled in pass protection, allowing 45 pressures on the year, according to Pro Football Focus.

With that being said, Thuney will likely get some competition throughout the offseason, but is the favorite to keep the job as long as he avoids the sophomore slump.

Steven Hauschka, Kicker, Buffalo Bills

Over the offseason, Hauschka signed a four-year, $12.4 million contract with the Bills after six seasons in Seattle.

While he made 89.2 percent of his field goals last season, above his career average of 87.2 percent, he missed a career-high six extra point attempts, bringing his total to 10 missed PATs since the NFL extended the distance to 33 yards in 2015.

Hauschka will take over Dan Carpenter’s spot as the lone kicker on the roster after Carpenter was released just before the start of free agency.

Jacoby Brissett, Quarterback, New England Patriots

Like Thuney, Brissett was picked in the third round in 2016 by the Patriots.

Brissett started two games last season before being placed on Injured Reserve with a thumb injury, winning one against the Texans.

With Tom Brady expressing the desire to play until he is 45 and the team’s being reluctant to trade former second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo, Brissett is comfortably placed third on the depth chart for the time being.

Josh Jones, Safety, Green Bay Packers

Jones was the highest N.C. State player drafted since Amerson after the Packers selected him in the second round of this year’s draft.

Jones is athletically gifted, the prototypical size for a safety and solid in run support, but struggled with whiffed tackles and in coverage throughout his collegiate career, although he showed improvement his final year.

While he is not expected to start over safeties HaHa Clinton-Dix or Morgan Burnett, he has been very impressive in OTAs and could be used as a safety/linebacker hybrid in certain defensive packages, according to ESPN.

Jack Tocho, Defensive Back, Minnesota Vikings

While Tocho spent all four years with the Wolfpack playing cornerback, the Vikings plan to move him to safety after selecting him in the seventh round, according to CBS Sports.

The move makes sense, as the Vikings have much more depth at cornerback than safety and Tocho is physical enough to make the transition.

This will likely help Tocho’s chances of making the final roster, but he will also have to show that he can play on special teams to further improve these chances.

Matt Dayes, Running Back, Cleveland Browns

As a member of one of the deepest ever running back draft classes, Dayes fell all the way to the second to last pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

The biggest knock on Dayes basically goes along with the saying “jack of all trades, master of none.”

While Dayes is versatile as a runner and pass-catcher, he lacks both size and speed, limiting his ceiling as an NFL running back.

Fortunately for Dayes, the Browns don’t have much depth at running back outside of Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, giving him a reasonable shot to make the roster as the third running back.