The official list of players invited to participate in the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine was released today, and five former NC State players received invites.
Brissett, a two-year starter, earned honorable mention All-ACC honors as a senior. He is expected to be drafted in the mid-rounds of the upcoming draft.
"With his size, arm and competitiveness, there are times when Brissett will remind you of Jameis Winston, but Winston understood the nuances of the position early in his college career while Brissett is still learning," wrote NFL.com's Lance Zierlein. "Brissett’s overall ability as a passer is NFL-caliber and he should continue to show rapid improvement on the next level with better weapons and protection. While an NFL staff will need to help him overcome his bad habits and learn to be more consistent with his pre-snap recognitions, Brissett has the tools to become an NFL starter."
Joe Thuney developed into a first-team All-ACC selection and an All-American as a senior. He has played all five positions on the offensive line for NC State.
"[Thuney] doesn’t check all of the physical boxes scouts want, but his tasks get accomplished," Zierlein said of Thuney. "Accurate initial engagement as run blocker, allowing him to sustain blocks longer and widen running lanes. [He] has played every position along the offensive line... sharp and can process assignment changes quickly against run stunts. Sees twists and comes off of first blocks instantly to catch up with twisting rusher. Shows reactive athleticism to make quick counter step inside when needed.
"Thuney is a three-year starter who has shown overall improvement in all aspects of his game and the position diversity that offensive line coaches love and need. Unfortunately, his lack of foot quickness and arm length make him an unlikely NFL tackle and his core strength and frame deficiencies will make a move to guard very difficult. Ultimately, center might be his only NFL shot."
Burris made strides in his career, developing into a three-year starter who was productive cover corner as a senior when he allowed just a 34.1 percent completion rate with eight passes defensed and only one touchdown on 44 targets.
"[Burris is a] three-year starter who brings size and a competitive nature with him," said Zierlein. "Burris showed improvement as a cover corner this season and his ability to maintain feel and shadow receivers from press was evident. While he only logged three interceptions over his last three seasons, Burris consistently attacked throws and was just a hair away from about four more passes defensed."
Grinnage and Thornton don't have evaluations from Zierlein, but both are players likely on the fringe of being NFL draft picks. The upcoming combine will certainly be huge for both Grinnage, who declared early for the draft, and Thornton, who only played two games as a senior before being dismissed by the Wolfpack.
Clemson (8) and Florida State (6) were the only ACC teams to have more players invited than NC State. The Wolfpack had more players invited than Wake Forest (0), Duke (3), and North Carolina (1) combined.
The NFL Scouting Combine will be held Feb. 23-29 in Indianapolis.