We're two months away from the NFL Draft, but it's never too early to start getting familiarized with NC State defensive tackle Alim McNeill.
During his three years with the Wolfpack, McNeill had 77 total tackles, 10 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interceptions. That's outstanding production considering he had to share time on the field with several other NFL-caliber players.
In addition to being a dominant force on the defensive line, McNeill also knows how to produce great tunes. It's a unique hobby of his that he was more than happy to shed some light on.
We sat down with Alim McNeill to discuss his preparation for the NFL Draft, his inspiration behind making music, and much more.
The Spun: How has it been preparing for the NFL Draft?
Alim McNeill: It’s been really cool, really fun. I’m just meeting new guys at this great training facility I’m at. To be able to lock in and chase my dream, it’s just really nice to wake up and remember that. It’s just been a really cool process.
The Spun: Pro Football Focus had some strong praise for you recently. What is it like getting that type of buzz so early in the draft process?
AM: It’s neat to get that type of buzz. I never really thought I’d be in the position I’m in right now and to be here is just cool to think about it. It’s really nice to see people noticing my film.
The Spun: Have you been able to speak to former NC State players currently in the NFL, and if so, what advice have they given you?
AM: I’ve spoken to a bunch. The four guys that left the year before I got there, Justin Jones, BJ Hill, Kentavius Street, Bradley Chubb, all of those guys. And then I have personal friends I grew up with like Nyheim Hines. They just told me to lock in, hold my head down, and get to work. I also talked to James Smith-Williams and Larell Murchison, and they told me the same thing. It’ll be a long year from me, but as long as I stay locked in I’ll be able to get through it.
The Spun: I was listening to your song 'Love On My Mind' earlier this week. Tell me how you got into music production?
AM: It’s really just a fun hobby I do. I just do it whenever I have time - I’m actually working on an album right now. Whenever I get back home and I’m done with my day, I just start doing music stuff. My dad put me into it because he used to make beats since he used to DJ when he was younger. That’s really who got me into it, my dad. Ever since then, I’ve just really been into music. I got my software and a mic, and then it was history from there.
The Spun: Obviously we know what your aspirations are as an NFL player. What about the music side. What can we expect moving forward?
AM: I really don’t know. I’m so locked in on football right now it’s ridiculous. Music is kind of a gateway thing for me if I want to get my mind off things. I don’t have any future goals for it, though.
The Spun: Who was the best quarterback you faced in the ACC?
AM: I’d say Trevor Lawrence. Sam Howell is a close second. Sam is different, especially for his age.
The Spun: What about Sam Howell makes him different?
AM: It’s just his demeanor on the field. He doesn’t say a word, like at all. He’s on the field dicing, and even when I’m watching him play he’s not getting all riled up. He’s just out there doing the job and he’s put UNC in some really good positions throughout the season. He’s a different guy to game plan against because he’s got a bigger bottom half, so he’s not an easy guy to take down. He’s also mobile and has a ridiculous arm.
The Spun: Who do you watch the most tape of?
AM: Fletcher Cox - there’s actually three guys - but I like how Fletcher strikes people, gets to the quarterback and destroys run blocks. Aaron Donald, I watch him for his finesse because I want to emulate some of that into my game as well and move my feet better. And then Kenny Clark, my position coach trains him and I’ve watched him a ton. I feel like I’m more comparable to him size wise and everything like that. As for who I watch the most, though, I’d say Fletcher Cox.
The Spun: What do you want to show at your pro day?
AM:Just my ability to move and athleticism. I don’t want to be categorized as a one-tech or nose tackle. I’m able to play all across the line when need be. I want to show how explosive I am and how good I can move in and out of breaks.
The Spun: Who’s the quarterback you can’t wait to sack?
AM: I’m not gonna lie, it’s Cam Newton. I’m the biggest Cam Newton fan in the nation, and it’s not even close. I only want to sack him because we share the same birthday. That’s the only reason (laughing).
The Spun: Do you have a special song lined up for the draft?
AM: I do have a special song lined up. It’s one of my songs, but I haven’t released it yet. But yup, I do have a special song ready for sure.
Pro Football Focus is all in on Alim McNeill, rating him the No. 45 overall prospect and No. 2 defensive tackle in the upcoming draft. They went as far as to call him a potential "holy grail" because he can rush the passer from the interior.
McNeill is currently projected to be a Day 2 selection, but he'll have the chance to improve his stock even more at his pro day.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.