Next Up: Wolfpack's Top 2021 Draft Candidates

Brett Friedlander

Now that the 2020 NFL draft has come and gone, and the NC State defensive line duo of Larrell Murchison and James Smith-Williams have found new homes with the Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins, it's never too early to start looking ahead to next year.

Although it's way too soon to know which team will be on the clock first, it's never to early to start speculating on which players might be available to them.

Here's a look at NC State's most likely 2021 draft candidates:

TE Cary Angeline: At 6-foot-7, 250 pounds, Angeline certainly passes the eye test. His performance on the field last season also showed promise. He was an effective weapon in goal line situations because of his size and ability to win jump balls while scoring a team-leading five receiving touchdowns. He also displayed an ability to find seams downfield for big plays, averaging 15.2 yards on his 25 catches. While Angeline has the physical tools to play at the next level, his draftability might ultimately depend on who ends up playing quarterback for the Wolfpack next season.

OG Joe Sculthorpe: A second-team All-ACC selection by Pro Football Focus, Sculthorpe was State's top-graded offensive lineman against both ECU and Syracuse last season while allowing only 1.5 sacks in 790 snaps at left guard. Not only does he have the size to play in the NFL at 6-3, 300, but his versatility is also a plus, having also played center during his Wolfpack career.

OT Justin Witt: Witt's status as the anchor of State's offensive line was solidified last summer when coach Dave Doeren chose him as one of two players to represent the team at the ACC's preseason media event. He was off to a strong start until suffering a shoulder injury in Week 5 at Florida State. He subsequently had surgery on both shoulders. But at 6-6, 310, with over 1,200 snaps to his credit over three seasons, the scouts figure to keep a close eye on him next season.

  WR Emeka Emezie: Even though Emezie led the team with 56 catches and 576 yards last season, 2019 was something of a disappointment as he struggled with his new role as a leader both on and off the field. He now admits that he tried too hard to emulate his former teammate and mentor Kelvin Harmon and has returned to his former number 86 after wearing Harmon's old No. 3 last season. Harmon was a sixth-round pick of the Washington Redskins. If Emezie can put up big numbers as a senior, he could potentially be a late-round pick as well.

WR C.J. RIley: Riley was poised for a breakout year as the Wolfpack's top downfield receiver, but he suffered an ACL tear while attempting to make a tackle on punt coverage in the season opener against ECU and didn't play again. If he can stay healthy in 2020 and show that he hasn't lost a step or two off his 4.48 speed because of the injury, he could be an attractive target for an NFL team.

 DT Alim McNeill: McNeill is a wild card in this equation because 2020 will only be his junior year. But given State's reputation for producing NFL-worthy defensive linemen and the 5.5 sacks the 6-2, 315-pound tackle recorded last season -- second on the team to recent fifth-round pick Larrell Murchison -- he could conceivably decide to leave a year early if his performance merits it.

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