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Pack in the Pros - NFL Preseason Edition

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20 former Wolfpack players on preseason NFL rosters

NCAA Football: Troy at North Carolina State Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

(Player Name - Last Year at NC State - Position - Current Team)

David Amerson - 2012 - CB - Oakland Raiders

After a little over two... uhhh... interesting years with the Washington Redskins, Amerson was put on waivers and picked up a day later by the Oakland Raiders. He immediately stepped in as a key CB for the Raiders and has been a mainstay for the club since. Amerson enters his second full year as a starter for an Oakland team that is a popular preseason pick to make the Super Bowl.

Jacoby Brissett - 2015 - QB - New England Patriots

Brissett enters his second year as the number three QB for the defending Super Bowl champions. He made two starts early in his rookie year during Tom Brady’s suspension when #2 QB Jimmy Garoppolo was injured. Brissett injured his throwing hand during in his first start, but gutted out the second start. He missed the majority of the remainder of the season, but was activated late in the year to be a part of the postseason squad. He could be a final roster casualty and end up on the Patriots practice squad this year, but I doubt the Pats would cut him completely.

Juston Burris - 2015 - CB - New York Jets

Burris, who I just realized I’ve been spelling his first name wrong for the better part of a decade, enters his second year with the Jets with his roster spot pretty safe. He should be the third or fourth CB for the Jets while also seeing time on special teams.

Bra’lon Cherry - 2016 - WR - Atlanta Falcons

An Undrafted Free Agent (UFA) after the 2017 NFL Draft, Cherry quickly signed on with the Tennessee Titans. He was waived by the Titans so the team could make room to sign WR Eric Decker, but was signed shortly thereafter by the Atlanta Falcons. Cherry did not record any statistics in the team’s first preseason game and has an uphill battle to earn a final roster spot.

Audie Cole - 2011 - LB - Jacksonville Jaguars

Cole signed as a free agent during the offseason with the Jaguars after five years with the Minnesota Vikings. He enters the season as the backup to Paul Posluszny in the Jaguars 3-4 scheme, and should also be a stalwart on the Jags special teams units, a role which he excelled at with the Vikings.

Matthew Dayes - 2016 - RB - Cleveland Browns

Dayes is one of five running backs trying to make the cut for the Browns final roster. The team has two solid RBs in place with Isaiah Crowell and former Miami Hurricane star Duke Johnson, but Dayes should have a good shot at the #3 RB spot this year. The knocks on him going into the draft (jack of all trades, master of none) should actually help him in securing the 3rd RB role.

Mike Glennon - 2012 - QB - Chicago Bears

After playing fairly well in his time under center as a rookie with Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers used the first overall pick in the following year’s draft to take Jameis Winston. That move made Glennon the back-up QB in Tampa, a role he held for the next three seasons (although he did get some significant playing time his second year when Winston was out with an injury). Despite limited action as a back-up, Glennon signed a big money free agent deal in the offseason with the Chicago Bears and was anointed the starting QB from the moment he signed. Then, in what I can only assume felt like deja vu for him and in the future will be referred to as “Glennon’s Law” or some similarly stupid moniker, the Bears used the second overall pick in the 2017 draft to take QB Mitch Trubisky, immediately putting into doubt Glennon’s role with the franchise. Glennon is still the starter, but he will need to perform very well early in the season to keep his starting gig over Trubisky. Glennon is only 27, so if he can perform well enough, there’s always the chance that he can make Trubisky a trading chip for the Bears and cement himself as the franchise QB for the next eight-to-ten years... or, more likely, he plays well enough to make himself a trade chip where he can be shipped off to another franchise that will then use one of the first picks in the following draft to select his successor.

TJ (Trevor?) Graham - 2011 - WR - Carolina Panthers

Graham was out of football in 2016 after being drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2012 and spending the next couple of years bouncing around the league with the Bills, Jets, and Saints. He also spent time as a member of the Titans and Eagles, but never made it to regular season game with either of those squads. This offseason, Graham apparently dropped TJ in favor of Trevor and then signed with the hometown/state Carolina Panthers. He has a serious uphill battle to earn a roster spot in a crowded receiving corps for the Panthers.

David Grinnage - 2015 - TE - Jacksonville Jaguars

Grinnage, a fan favorite and widely-agreed vastly under-utilized player during his time at State, left school early following the 2015 season to head to the NFL. After a poor combine showing, Grinnage went undrafted. He signed as a UFA with the Green Bay Packers, but got injured during rookie minicamp and was released. Just last week, he was signed by the Jaguars and added to their active roster. Grinnage is one of seven tight ends currently trying to make the final roster for the Jags. He has a tough task ahead of himself.

Steven Hauschka - 2007 - K - Buffalo Bills

After several years bouncing around the NFL, Hauschka finally latched on with the Seattle Seahawks and became one of the best and most reliable kickers in the league. He signed a four-year free agent deal with the Bills during the offseason.

Dontae Johnson - 2013 - CB - San Francisco 49ers

Johnson enters his fourth year, and his first as a fulltime starter, with the 49ers. This will be a big year for Johnson as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

Josh Jones - 2016 - S - Green Bay Packers

Jones turned in a phenomenal 2016 season for the Wolfpack, then followed that up with a great combine performance that resulted in his being drafted by the Packers in the 2nd round of the 2017 NFL draft. Jones enters the season listed as the back-up at SS, but has also worked during the preseason as the team’s hybrid safety-linebacker in their new 4-2-5 scheme. He should see plenty of playing time this year.

Ted Larsen - 2009 - OL - Miami Dolphins

Larsen has turned in what has to be the quietest long career of any current NC State football alum. Larsen was drafted by the Patriots, but never played for the club. He spent four seasons (two-plus as a starter) with the Buccaneers, two years (both as a starter) with the Cardinals, and played last season (started 8 of 16 games) with the Bears. During the offseason, Larsen signed a three-year free agent deal with the Dolphins.

TY McGill - 2014 - DL - Indianapolis Colts

McGill entered the league as a UFA, making his way onto the Colts roster after a brief preseason stay with the Seahawks. He’s been a regular over his first two years, registering five sacks over that span, and enters his third year as a mainstay in the three man rotation at DT for the Colts.

Philip Rivers - 2003 - QB - San Diego Los Angeles Chargers

There’s not much to say about Rivers that almost everyone reading this doesn’t already know. He’s one of the most underrated QBs in the NFL, a great leader, and a great person. The dude is a straight up stud who has a very realistic shot at passing the 50,000 yard mark for his career this season. Based on the advanced metric of Career Approximate Value (either weighted or unweight), he ranks in the Top 30 all-time of NFL players. Hopefully the Chargers organization can put together a team around P-Riv so he can make a run at a Super Bowl Championship, which is probably the only thing standing between him and the Hall of Fame - although he should make that anyways.

JR Sweezy - 2011 - OL - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sweezy, the college DL turned pro OL, became one of the better guards in the league during his time with the Seahawks. He signed a five-year deal with the Buccaneers before the 2016 season, but missed the entirety of last year after suffering a back injury. He enters this season as the starter at RG for what should be a potent Tampa Bay offense.

Joe Thuney - 2015 - OL - New England Patriots

Thuney was a very versatile member of the Wolfpack offensive line during his time at State, seemingly starting at every position. He was a third round pick of the Patriots in the 2016 NFL Draft and surprised a lot of non-NC State fans by winning the starting LG job as a rookie for the Patriots heading into the 2016 season. Thuney went on to start every game of the regular and postseason for the Super Bowl Champs, playing more snaps than any other Patriot on the year. He was named to the All-Rookie team and, obviously, enters his second year as the starter again at LG.

Jack Tocho - 2016 - S/CB - Minnesota Vikings

Tocho was a seventh round selection of the Vikings in this year’s NFL Draft. The team is looking to convert him from cornerback to safety, where he will enter the year battling for the back-up position.

Russell Wilson - 2011 - QB - Seattle Seahawks

Our favorite nanobubble bro enters his sixth year as the starting QB for the Seahawks. Wilson has become one of the better QBs in the league, transitioning from a game manager to the focal point of the Seahawks offense. I’d write more, but everyone kind of already knows his story. We love him, we hate him, but hey, he’s ours.

Willie Young - 2009 - LB/DE - Chicago Bears

Young enters his fourth season in Chicago after spending the first four seasons of his career in Detroit. He has been fantastic in Chicago during his three season stay (the first year as a 4-3 DE, the last two as a 3-4 OLB), recording 24 sacks over his 28 starts. This is the last year of the two-year contract extension Young signed prior to the 2016 season.

Other Former Players of Note:

Mario Williams, Manny Lawson, Earl Wolff, Nate Irving, and Terrell Manning are currently listed as NFL free agents. There have been reports recently that the Patriots are looking to sign either Williams or Dwight Freeney to bolster their poor defensive line. Wolff was released earlier this month by the Washington Redskins. Manning is currently listed on the roster for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.

Stephen Tulloch and Markus Kuhn retired earlier this year.

Jerricho Cotchery joined the Carolina Panthers staff earlier this year as an Assistant Wide Receivers Coach.